Noreen Chin -- November 2002 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite)
WHO ARE WE?
My husband Paul and I have been to Disney World several times in the last few years. It has become our favorite vacation. We went to Disneyland (California) for the first time in January 1997 and became engaged at Sea World.
This trip was an add-on to a business trip I had to attend in Orlando. Unfortunately, Paul wasnít able to meet me for this trip.
Paul and I have been to Disney twice this year (April and August); and I was here an additional time this year (tacking on a few days after a business trip to Orlando in May). During our April trip we stayed at our timeshare - Vistana in a 2 bedroom condo for 8 days; my solo trip in May I spent 4 days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (savannah view); our trip in August was 5 days at Disneyís Yacht & Beach Club (Beach Club side) followed by a week at Disneyland in California. The annual passholder rates were too good to pass up for the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Beach Club trips.
Bonus Trip - I found out I have to attend another conference for 2 days in November in Orlando. Since Iím going to be there, why not add a few days on and go to Disney? Our premium annual passes expired September 8th so I probably will just buy a park hopper pass for this trip. Paul doesnít think he can meet me down there at this time so Iím going to be on my own.
On September 28th I called Vistana - I can use points to stay at Vistana. I will have a 1 bedroom condo with a Jacuzzi. Since itís just me - I donít need the two bedroom condo. I could have gotten the smaller 1 bedroom without the Jacuzzi for less points, but I like the Jacuzzi and we arenít going to use any more of our points this year anyway. I still have a few points left for this year which I probably wonít use. Iíll check in Tuesday night 11/12 and check out Friday 11/15. Normally, there would be a $45 split week housekeeping fee. However, when we were there in April for a full week we never received the housekeeping service that we should have. I mentioned it when speaking with Tracy and she was able to waive the fee.
Iíll try to keep track of my expenses. Not for the LGE conference portion of the trip since my company will be picking up that tab - but Iíll track the Disney portion since thatís what Iím paying for.
DAY BY DAY
The week before the trip
The day before the trip - Saturday 11/9/02
I checked in and went to the gate to wait for my flight. We left about 10 minutes late, but still landed on time. It was a very pleasant flight.
When we landed, I retrieved my checked bag, and proceeded to check in at the Hyatt in the airport. I was in my room just before midnight. I called Paul to let him know Iíd arrived safely. Unfortunately, I got involved watching the movie Twins on TV and didnít get to bed until 2am.
I went to National to pick up my rental car around 7:30pm. I had a gold Pontiac Grand Am. As I started driving towards Vistana, it started pouring. One of those Florida torrential downpours. Of course, it took me a bit of time to find the windshield wipers. I know I should figure out how to use the different things (like headlights and windshield wipers) before I leave the airport, but Iím so anxious to get on my way I just donít do it.
By the time I arrived at Vistana (20 minutes or so after leaving the airport) the rain was down to a drizzle. I checked in and was assigned my room quickly. Then I got lost in the Vistana complex. I own at the Lakes section so expected to stay there, but could not find the building number they gave me. Luckily, they also gave me a Vistana map so I checked where the building was. Silly me - it was in the Cascades. Cascades and Lakes are very similar and both are part of the Starwood vacation network so we can stay in either one (good thing since those are the two newest sections of the resort).
Since I was in the wrong section anyway, I stopped at the Walgreens and picked up bottled water and a disposable camera. Cost $16.94
I also stopped at the Vistana store and picked up Orange Juice, Milk, Soda, Cereal, and chips for the room. Cost $16.45.
I finally found my room. Itís a one bedroom villa - unit number 2423. When you first walk in, there are doors with a stacked washer/dryer to the right. To the left is a full kitchen. Just beyond the kitchen (over the counter) is the dining room and beyond that is the living room. The living room has a door to the balcony with a table and chairs. The living room also has a door leading into the bedroom which has a king size bed, Jacuzzi, sink, etc. The bedroom also has a door leading to the balcony. From the front door going to the right is a door leading to a room with a sink in it. From this room you can either go into the bathroom with a shower stall and toilet or into the bedroom. The point of this extra room I guess is if you have people sleeping in the living room they can go into the bathroom without bothering the people in the bedroom.
I got myself settled, looked at some Disney information that was in the room and then called Paul to let him know Iíd made it to Vistana OK. I used the Jacuzzi, then watched some TV and went to bed by midnight.
I had some cereal for breakfast then left for Magic Kingdom.
I arrived at Magic Kingdom just before opening (about 8:45am). There was no line whatsoever to buy my tickets. I bought a 4-day park hopper pass for $210.94
I got right on the Monorail, through security, and was walking down Main Street at 5 minutes to 9.
My first stop was to get a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was a little eerie walking through Frontierland as I was the only person walking that way. Paul isnít a morning person so when we are in Disney together we arenít usually here at opening. My FastPass was good from 9:40-10:40. Since Fantasyland is usually very crowded I decided to go there next.
I walked right on Peter Panís Flight with no wait at all. Then The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with only a 10 minute wait. I even was able to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant with only a 10 minute wait. At Dumbo I did my good deed of the day. This woman ahead of me was there with 4 children. They wouldnít all fit in one elephant so she wanted two of them to ride together. The cast member said the children have to be at least 10 years old to ride Dumbo by themselves. The oldest was 5. I told the lady and the cast member I was riding alone if she wanted one of the children to ride with me that would be fine. So a cute little girl name Mary with curly red hair rode Dumbo with me. When we got into our elephant, her mother (who wasnít riding but taking pictures from the side) teased us that we were on the ďcurly haired girlsĒ Dumbo (I have curly brown hair).
After Dumbo I walked back towards Main Street to watch Cinderellaís Surprise Celebration at 9:45am.
I went back into Fantasyland after and rode Snow Whiteís Scary Adventures and Cinderellaís Golden Carrousel with no waits at all.
My plan was to grab a FastPass for The Haunted Mansion on my way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but FastPass wasnít working since there was a 0 wait posted. So I walked through the queue. I saw the new Madame Leota headstone and watched it - I saw the eyes open. After picking up my hitchhiking ghost, I made my way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
FastPass allowed me to bypass the 15 minute line that has formed. I rode near the back of the train and since I was in the car alone, ended up sliding back and forth across the seat as we went through the turns.
I waited about 5 minutes to get onto Pirates of the Caribbean.
Next stop was Tomorrowland. At approximately 11am I picked up a FastPass for Buzz Lightyearís Space Ranger Spin that was good from 11:30-12:30. I talked to Paul for a little while. Cell phones are great. However, unlike some rude people that just talk on attractions disturbing everyone around them, I found a quiet bench near the bathrooms to carry on my conversation. Paul wished he was at Disney with me instead of at work. I donít know if it was getting here at opening or the time of year (first time Iíve been here in November), but the crowds were practically non-existent and the weather was beautiful.
I waited about 10 minutes to go on Space Mountain.
My Buzz Lightyear fast pass came in handy, allowing me to bypass a 25 minute wait at this point. I scored approximately 117,000 points - Space Ranger 1st Class (I think).
I walked right onto Small World with no wait.
It was noon and I was getting hungry for lunch. I went to El Pirata Y el Pirico Restaurante and had an order or nachos. I also picked up a bottle of coke from one of the vendors. Iím not a big fan of fountain soda. Lunch cost $8.11 and was very good.
I planned to get a FastPass for Jungle Cruise but the FastPass machine was out of order and the wait was posted at 30 minutes. The wait ended up only being about 7 minutes. Becca was our guide and she was excellent. She didnít just tell the same corny jokes that most of them do. She was really into her role.
I walked right into The Enchanted Tiki Room after.
I decided to drive over to Animal Kingdom and arrived there around 2:15pm, parking in the Dinosaur lot.
My first stop was Itís Tough to Be a Bug with no wait. Iím enjoying being able to get around and onto attractions so quickly - itís really spoiling me for our usual trips in either April or September (which we previously thought were slower times).
I obtained a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris which was good from 3:20-4:20. Then I took the train to Conservation Station. There wasnít much going on in the veterinary section so I headed into the petting zoo. It was really cute - I pet some baby goats.
When getting on the train back to the Africa section, my cell phone rang. It was Paul - so I gabbed with him for a little while.
I used my FastPass for the Safari around 3:30pm. We saw lots of animals out and about.
At about 10 to 4, I found a prime viewing spot on the bridge to wait for the parade. Mickeyís Jammin Jungle Parade started at 4. It was cute. The only downside was trying to get out after the parade. Since the roads arenít that wide and there arenít may other routes to take, I was stuck following the parade slowly out.
When I finally made my way near the exit I called work to see how things were going. The park was going to close at 5pm so I wanted to get on my way and beat the rush. I drove over to Epcot and found a good spot in Amaze (row 32) when I arrived at Epcot around 5pm.
I went right on Spaceship Earth with no wait.
I made my way over to World Showcase to see the Food and Wine Festival for the first time. I decided Iíd snack my way around the countries for dinner. Since I wasnít about to sit in a nice sit down restaurant by myself, I figured that was a good choice. Normally I would have sat in a counter service place, but this sounded more fun.
I started at the Russia booth and tried the Beef Stroganoff for $3. It was very tasty. I ate about half of it and threw the rest out. There wasnít anything wrong with it, but I wanted to sample some other things and knew if I finished the servings I wouldnít get too far. Now if Paul was here with me, it would have been much easier and less wasteful since we could have shared. For sample sizes, these were pretty hefty portions.
Next was the Japan booth for the Golden Shrimp for $3.25. I expected this to be like fantail shrimp. Unfortunately, it was a shrimp covered in something like a baked mashed potato. I didnít like this at all and dumped it after taking a bite.
At the America booth I had a crab cake for $3. This was very tasty and I ate the whole thing - it was only a small crab cake.
I grabbed a pretty good seat in the America Gardens Theater to wait for the 6:45 Chubby Checker Concert. This was a good show - people were dancing and twisting in the aisles and by their seats. The show ended about 7:15pm.
I stopped in Norway and went on Maelstrom - waiting 15 minutes for this. I stayed for the movie as well.
Next was Mexico for the El Rio del Tiempo boat ride. There was not wait at all and I had the whole boat to myself.
I stopped at the Mexico booth and had a Chicken and Chorizo Quesadilla for $3 and a glass of Watermelon Juice for $1.50. Both of these were very tasty and I finished it all.
I stopped at the Ireland stand for the Oatmeal Whiskey Flan for $1. This was delicious.
I went back to Norway and went to the bakery to pick up some Lefse (about $2.25) to have with my cereal for breakfast tomorrow morning. Someone in line for Maelstrom was talking about these so I decided Iíd get it to try it, but I was too stuffed tonight to eat it.
I was stopped for a quick survey on the way out.
I was back in Vistana by 8:45pm. I went in the Jacuzzi, called Paul at home, put together some notes for my trip report, watched some TV and was in bed by midnight.
When Paul and I travel together he usually has his laptop with him so Iím able to type up the trip report as we go. This way, I was just jotting down some notes as I went and had to type it all once I got home.
Iím very surprised by how much I was able to do in just one day.
I stopped at Walgreenís and picked up some lozenges ($2.29) to help my throat.
I was at the Disney-MGM Studios before they opened - around 8:45. I parked in the first row (near where the buses drop off) and just walked right over to the entrance. I went through security and into the park quickly. But then we were stopped on their Main Street waiting for the official opening time of 9am.
I walked right onto the Great Movie Ride and had the gangster side.
I went into Walt Disney: One Manís Dream - I saw this once before but enjoyed it even more this time. I seem to remember (and maybe it was somewhere else) that one of these shows talked about how Walt Disney originally wanted to name Mickey Mouse: Mortimer Mouse, before his wife told him to use Mickey. But they didnít talk about that today, so I must have heard that somewhere else.
I had my picture taken with Sorcerer Mickey. I was the only one there so I got two pictures with my camera taken as well as the one they take for you. I obtained a FastPass for the 11:20 "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" show and then went into the 10:30 show. I made it up to 2nd place on the leader board but no higher.
I had my picture taken with Pluto then went into the 11:20 ďWho Wants to Be a Millionaire?Ē show. This time I only made it as high as 4th place.
At noon I went into the Magic of Disney Animation. This is always pleasant. Itís a long presentation - about 45 minutes.
I went on the Tower of Terror with no wait. The wait time showed 13 minutes - which I know means no wait at all.
I decided to head over to the Marketplace and see if I could get some soup somewhere. Iím not normally a fan of soup but my throat was bothering me and I wasnít about to stop having fun, so thought maybe soup would make me feel a little better. I went to Wolfgang Puck Express and had the butternut squash soup. I also picked up a croissant. Cost $6.36. The croissant was a little stale, but the soup was pretty good. I wandered around World of Disney and the Christmas store for a little while, but didnít buy anything (guess Iím feeling worse than I thought if I can walk through and not shop).
I headed over to Epcot and parked in Discover 14 arriving about 2:15pm. I called work to see how things were going then headed over to Test Track. There was a 30 minute wait posted so I went on the single rider line. When I got in line, not only did the CM manning the line give me a single rider pass made out of paper, but he also gave me a magnetized card to give to the person who put me in the car. Iím wondering if they had trouble with people making copies of the single rider passes and now had to do this as well. Regardless, I walked right up to the top and joined two teenage boys also waiting in the single rider line. The three of us were admitted to the pre-show then the doors were opened for us to proceed to the cars. There were no stand-by people waiting so the three of us were ushered into the front seat of our own car. I guess the people working there werenít moving people through as quickly as they should have if there was a 30 minute wait posted yet many cars were running through empty.
I headed over to Universe of Energy next. Even though it was pretty empty, they announced to move to the front and fill the rows there first. So the first two rows were jammed with people. I sat in the 4th row and had it to myself. I like this attraction even though it is long at 45 minutes.
I went into Wonders of Life and Cranium Command next. This was very cute.
I walked very quickly over to the France Pavilion in the World Showcase next to catch the 4:40pm A Chair Act. The more time I spend at Epcot the more Iím enjoying the live entertainment provided.
I walked over to the United Kingdom Pavilion next and saw the 5pm performance of ďKing Arthur and the Holy GrailĒ by the World Showcase Players. Paul was once picked to be Sir Galahad and heís a bit of a ham so really enjoyed playing to the audience.
I headed over to the Canada Pavilion and once again decided dinner would be snacking around the Food and Wine Festival. At the Canada booth I had a piece of Salmon ($3) and some cheddar cheese soup ($2.50). I finished both of these as they were very good.
I headed back into Future World and went into the Imagination Pavilion and onto Journey Into Your Imagination - also a walk on. I sent some e-mails from ImageWorks.
I went over to the Land Pavilion and went on Living with the Land. There was about a 10 minute wait for this.
I also was able to see Food Rocks while in this Pavilion. The theater was very empty but this is a cute show.
Back to World Showcase as Future World was almost ready to close. I really donít like Future World closing at 7pm. Iím hoping if business for Disney picks up, theyíll go back to keeping all of Future World open until the park closes like they used to. Now the only things open in Future World between 7 and 9 are Innoventions, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track.
At the Mexico booth I tried the Taco Al Carbon ($2.50) - yuck. This was horrible and after one bite I threw it out. At the China Booth I tried the Mango Mousse ($2.50) - also yuck. When I was in Seattle at a Chinese restaurant, Iíd tried mango mousse and it was delicious. I was hoping this would taste like it but no such luck.
I saw the 7:15pm show of Imaginum - A Statue Act in the Italy Pavilion. This was great. I really enjoyed watching this. A woman is dressed all in white and acts like a statue. As people go to take pictures with her she may move slightly or grab your hat or something. Itís really funny.
At the Italy booth I had a piece of pepperoni pizza ($2.50). This was excellent and probably one of the best things I tried at the Food and Wine Festival.
There was a store right before heading back into Future World that had a lot of Christmas items. I bought two ornaments and a Mickey shaped Christmas thing to hang on the door. Total spent $44.52
I was stopped for another short survey on the way out.
I was back at Vistana by 8:45pm. I havenít been staying for the evening fireworks or shows (ex. IllumiNations or Fantasmic). Iíve seen them all before and even though I enjoy them, I didnít want to get stuck in lots of traffic leaving after those shows. Also, I havenít been feeling that great.
I did a load of laundry (the machine is right in the timeshare), watched some TV, called Paul, went in the Jacuzzi, watched some more TV, and was in bed by midnight.
I had breakfast and finished packing up my stuff. I didnít need to rush since the first Millionaire show wasnít until 10:30.
I checked out of Vistana by 9:15. The clerk at the desk was very friendly and we got to chatting about Disney.
I arrived at MGM around 9:40am. I had a pretty good parking spot - not where I was yesterday where I can walk right over to the front entrance; but I was only the 4th car in from the end where the tram stops.
I made it through security and into MGM quickly.
First stop was Tower of Terror - again with a 13 minute wait posted which meant there was no wait at all.
I went to the 10:30 Millionaire Show. The first question was putting Demi Moore movies into the order they were released starting with the most recent. I had a pretty good idea, wasnít 100% sure, but entered my answers pretty quickly. They listed the answers and I was correct. Then they showed the leader board and I didnít see my number yet. They paused on the top person and guess what? Seat #299 - thatís me - I got into hot seat. When they asked who was rooting me on, I didnít want people to know that I was at Disney alone (the New Yorker in me being nervous) so I said my husband didnít feel good and was back at the hotel room. I made it to the 8,000 point level. I used my ďask the audienceĒ lifeline on an early question about chess (which I donít play, so had no clue). On the one I missed, I used both my 50/50 and phone a stranger. The stranger guessed wrong and I followed his lead (he said he was 51% sure). It was a question about what country John Bull stood for. Regardless, it was a lot of fun. I received my hat, pins, and a lanyard.
I was planning to stay for the first two Millionaire shows, but since I got into the hot seat in the first one, I left to head to Epcot. Once you are in the hot seat you canít be in it again for 30 days.
I got to Epcot quickly, but this time my parking spot was all the way at the end of the row (not the side where the trams go).
I went on the Living Seas first. Itís not that exciting anymore without the ride.
I headed into World Showcase and to the Italy Pavilion. At the Italy stand I tried the baked Rigatoni ($3). This was pretty good.
At 12:40, also in Italy, I watched Sergio the Juggler perform. Paul called just as I was sitting down to watch. I chatted with Paul for a few minutes. Sergioís act was very quick - it was over in 10 minutes
While walking past the USA Pavilion, the Fife & Drum group was performing. I stayed to watch them.
I walked into the building to see the flag that was recovered from the World Trade Center. I was surprised at how powerful looking at it was - my eyes started tearing right away. My company had an office at 7 World Trade Center which doesnít exist anymore. Iíve heard the stories of a lot of my friends and co-workers trying to get out of the building and running away from debris and falling bodies. The building I currently work in is several blocks from the World Trade Center so even though our building was never in any danger, at the time no one knew that and they were also running away from the debris. Keep in mind, I wasnít even in NY on September 11th; I was in Disney World. So I donít have first hand experience with the horrible events in NY. Iíve just relived them through many friends, co-workers, and family who luckily all survived that day.
At the Japan stand I had the Sushi for $2.50. It wasnít that good. The drummers were performing while I ate my sushi, then I wandered through the store. It appears that a section was closed off since it seemed much smaller to me this time than the last few times Iíve walked through it.
I went back to Italy to watch the 1:15 performance of Imaginum (living statue). I really enjoyed watching this show. The way she interacts with the different people is really fun. At the end of the show, there was a guy who went to get his picture taken with her, but she wouldnít let him go. Then the guyís wife came up to be in the picture too. The statue originally shooed her away, but she didnít leave. Then the statue motioned for the wife to get up on the pedestal and pose like a statue, which she did. The statue got off her pedestal and walked off with the guy. Hysterical.
In the France Pavilion, I saw the 2pm showing of Impressions de France. It definitely makes me want to visit France (and Euro Disney).
When I exited the show, the World Showcase Players were in France so I caught the end of Cyranose de Bergerac. Definitely something that makes more sense when you see the whole thing.
At the France booth I tried an onion tart $1.50 - yuck. It was cold and ended up in the garbage after one bite. If it was hot, it may have tasted better.
At the Ireland booth, I had the oatmeal whiskey flan $1. This was delicious.
I stopped in Canada and watched the ďO Canada!Ē movie. Although you are supposed to stand, I sat on the floor along with most of the other guests.
I watched the 3:15 acrobat show in China. These kids are amazing.
Reflections of China was about to start so I went into that next.
All Iíve been eating mainly has been food on the run at the festival in Epcot. Iím not knocking it - I really enjoyed it. However, I was in the mood for some basic American food. I thought a cheeseburger, fries, and coke (approx $8.50) at the Electric Umbrella would hit the spot. The cheeseburger tasted like a hockey puck so most of it went into the garbage, but the fries were good.
I did some shopping in Mouse Gear.
At approximately 5pm, I retrieved the car and drove to the airport - arriving at about 5:30.
Check-in was quick and I was at gate by 6:10 for 8:10 flight.
There was a 7:10 flight also to Newark that was delayed and packed and didnít leave until 7:50.
Our flight was relatively empty. While waiting at the gate, I struck up a conversation with an older man who was also waiting. Iíd asked for an exit row at the gate and had the aisle seat in an exit row with no one in the middle seat. Perfect.
The flight was uneventful and we landed early.
Paul picked me up with Kiki
Even though I enjoyed my solo time at Disney, I love sharing Disney with Paul and prefer to vacation together.
Until our next Disney tripÖ