Robin Goble -- June 2002 -- Walt Disney World (PR, BCR)
June 8 - 15, 2002
At what point do you stop saying, "This will probably be my last trip to WDW for a while." and just admit that as soon as you get back from one trip, you are immediately going to start planning for your next trip? Well I think I'm at that point! My mother, nephew and I visited WDW in November of 2001 and then my younger sister, brother-in-law, and I made a quick trip to Disneyland in December. I hadn't been back a week when the depression of having nothing to plan began to set in. Luckily, there all always people willing to go to WDW with you.
My older sister Lisa and her husband Lemuel had not been to WDW in five years. They had graciously let me take their child (nephew, Michael) with me the past two years and had patiently listened to our tales of fun, so they were the most obvious victims--err, I mean, "volunteers." The only real problem was scheduling. Lisa is a teacher (7th grade English--is she a saint, or what?) so the summer or school holidays was the only available time for her. Spring break is not an option for me because I am always in the thick of tax season then. That only left the summer, after school was out. We decided to go as soon as possible after school let out so that maybe the crowds wouldn't be quite as bad as high summer.
My mother said she would be brave and not go with us this trip. She felt bad about leaving my dad so often to go to WDW and she thought it would be too crowded with 5 of us instead of just 4.
In January I made our resort reservations for the Polynesian the first half of the week and the Beach Club the second half. I kept checking several internet sites until I finally got a decent discount that I was able to apply to my reservations. The rates weren't as good as the ones we got last November, but they were the best ones I could find for this time of year.
I also reserved a full-size car for the week with National. With the Emerald Aisle service we are guaranteed a full-size car but if a better car or even an SUV is available on the Emerald Aisle at the time we pick ours up we can automatically upgrade for the same rate. Last trip we had good luck in getting an SUV; however, on the previous trip only full-sized cars were available. I guess it all just depends on when you arrive, what's been returned that day, and luck. I usually reserve my car early and then keep checking the National website every week or so until I get the best rate. This trip, I never beat my original reservation for $181 for the week (which seemed high to me--I've gotten a full sized for as low as $139 before).
I also called and made reservations for the Hoop Dee Doo Revue in January. I asked Lisa if there was anything in particular that she had heard about that she wanted to see or do. She suggested that I pick something that *I* hadn't done so I decided on the Hoop Dee Doo. Michael and Lemuel both enjoy corny humor, so I hope they will like the show. I have heard that the earlier you make your reservation, the better the table that you are seated at. We'll see in June how this works out.
In March, at the 90 day mark, I started calling for an Illuminations Cruise. I was successful on the first try (for a cruise on Wednesday) so I just kept that date and decided not to even try for anymore (I had thought a Friday night would work better but I didn't want to push my luck).
Also in March I went ahead and ordered our admission tickets. The resort rates I settled on were with an Annual Passholder discount so I was renewing my Annual Pass (which expires in May). I was planning on renewing anyway, so this was no surprise. I decided on 7-day Park Hopper plus passes for Lisa and Lemuel. We were staying for 8 days but I figured surely there would be a day when we didn't go to a theme park. Michael still had 3 days and all 4 of his plus options left on his Park Hopper from our November trip, so I just got a plain 4 day Park Hopper for him.
In May I ordered our DisneyQuest tickets from ticketmania.com. They had a better price than I could get with my Disney Club discount ($23 for adults and $19 for children under age 11 with no shipping or handling charges). I was a bit nervous about ordering from a non-Disney source but the tickets arrived in a week and we had no problems using them.
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002
"I could have been at Walt Disney World!"
Plan: Flight to Orlando 5:45am, check-in at Polynesian, swim, maybe MK for parade, dinner at 'Ohana
Who was the moron who booked this flight?! I guess that would be me. My alarm went off at 3:00am this morning (Ugh!). Oh well, at least we'll get to WDW early. I quickly got ready and finished up my last-minute packing before waking Michael up at 4:00 (he had spent the night). He was hard to get going at first but perked up quickly and was fully wound by the time we got to the airport. He wasn't hungry at this early hour but had me make him a ham sandwich to put in my purse for later. Lisa and Lemuel arrived around 4:20 (they were leaving their car at the house instead of having to park it at the airport). We crammed all of our luggage into my Dad's car and he drove us to the airport at 4:30.
We were at the airport by 4:45 (our plane left at 5:45) and quickly checked in. At the security check-point I got picked to be scanned with the wand. I got to sit in a chair while they scanned the soles of my shoes. Lemuel set off the metal detector so he got to be hand-scanned also.
Michael bought a bag of Chex Mix ($1) to eat on the plane and I got a magazine at the gift shop. I was surprised the gift shop was open that early. We boarded at 5:30, took off at 5:45, and landed at DFW at 7:00 at a satellite terminal. We had to deplane on the tarmac and walk through an underground tunnel to get to the main terminal and walk right onto our now-boarding flight to Orlando.
On this flight, Michael and I were sitting next to a man who was going on a 7-day Disney Cruise with his family. It was his parents' 50th anniversary and the parents were treating him and his family (along with his three siblings and their families) to the cruise. They had a total of 17 people in their travel party. What a great celebration. He was very nice and talked to Michael a lot, which helped to pass the time.
We landed in Orlando on time at 11:00am. By the time we got on the monorail to the main terminal, it was pouring down rain. We picked up our luggage and went out to National's lot to pick our car off of the Emerald Aisle. There were no SUV's on the aisle this time (last November there had been at least a dozen) so we set about trying to find a car with a big enough trunk for our luggage. I was hoping for an Intrepid (I drive one at home and they have *huge* trunks) but none were to be found. We finally tried a Grand Prix but the luggage didn't quite fit. We moved down to a Buick Century but before we even had half of the bags loaded, Lemuel said he thought the Grand Prix was bigger! So, we look all the suitcases back down to the trunk of the Grand Prix, when another family got in the car! They were immediately apologetic and said they would find another car, but we had a good laugh about it and took a different Grand Prix that was not too far away. The one we picked was red so we told the other family that we would be able to find our car quicker than they would in the crowded parking lots(theirs was gold).
Finally, we were on our way. It was still pouring down rain and I accidentally took 417 North instead of South. It didn't take long to figure out my mistake, but it was a while before we could actually get turned around on the road. So much for impressing the family with my knowledge of the roadways!
It was a great relief when we finally drove onto Disney property and saw those purple signs. Is it just me, or does the traffic flow immediately get better once you're officially at Disney? Oh, it *is* just me then?...never mind. It was raining so hard that Lisa and Lemuel really couldn't even see any of the sights. We pulled into the Polynesian at 12:15. Aloha! It was great to be back. Lisa was immediately impressed with the landscaping and the Great Ceremonial House (GCH). We got our refillable mugs out of our luggage before bell services took the bags for us, turned our car over to valet parking, and went inside. One tip that I got from a trip report (sorry, I can't remember the name of the gentleman who wrote it) was to get a bunch of $2 bills to use for tips for valet service. I did that this trip (although I had a hard time finding a bank with a supply of $2 bills) and it worked out very well. I just stuck the $2 bills in the front of my billfold and always had small bills to use for tips.
There was no line for check-in, so we were helped immediately. The Cast Member (CM) said our room was in Niue as I had requested, but was not ready yet. She processed our Hoop Dee Doo tickets for us, sold us our E-Ride night tickets, and printed out a priority seating listing for us. After we checked in I went to Guest Relations and made a priority seating for the Fantasmic! Dinner Package for Thursday. We got our leis from the Island Guide and decided to get something to eat while we waited for the rain to stop.
We first checked Captain Cook's, but it was fairly busy and there were no tables available inside, so we decided to go upstairs to Kona. It was 1:15 when we checked in at Kona. The CM said it was about a 15 minute wait, but it was actually more like 5-10 minutes. Once we sat down we decided that we were starving. Breakfast had been non-existent (a lovely beverage and a "Biscoff" on the airplane--we decided they called their cookies "biscoff" because they were as dry as a biscuit and choked you so badly that they made you cough!) and we had been on the go for 8 hours already!
We ordered the Blue Crab Cakes for an appetizer, Michael had the kid's meal pasta, Lemuel had the Pan-Asian Pasta, and Lisa and I split the Pulled Pork Sandwich (so we would have room for dessert!). The food was all very good, but I just look at it as something I have to get through before I can have the real meal...DESSERT! And dessert we had: KoKo Puffs for Michael, Chocolate-dipped white chocolate cheese cake for me, Lemon-Mango chiffon for Lisa, and an Almond basket tiramisu for Lemuel. We mostly just ended up putting everything in the middle of the table and we all shared. As always, they were beautiful and delicious. The total for the meal was $64.04 before tip, although our first bill was only $36. We quickly discovered that the server had given us the ticket for another table so we brought it to his attention and got the right bill.
By now it had stopped raining and Michael was bursting to show his Dad the volcano pool so while they did that, Lisa and I waited for the bill, paid out, then filled up our mugs at Captain Cook's and went out to the pool. We found a table on the beach end of the swimming pool by the bar. I had Michael's swim suit in my purse so he quickly changed clothes and was in the water by 2:30. Lemuel decided he would swim too (he and Lisa had kept out their carry-on bag which contained their suits), but when he pulled out his suit, we discovered that he had my dad's suit instead! (Mom and Dad have a swimming pool so everyone's swimming suits are usually at the house. Lisa must have picked up Dad's suit by mistake or Mother must have sent the wrong suit home with them before they packed.) We had a good laugh and told Lemuel to be sure and tie it really tight so the suit doesn't come off in the water!
When Lemuel came out of the bathroom he seemed to be walking normally, so Lisa and I took that as a good sign that the suit wasn't too terribly big for him. At least he could walk without having to hold it up with his hands. Lisa remarked at the profusion of wild, tropical print bathing suits, towels, shorts, and shirts that everyone was wearing and how they fit in so well with the atmosphere at the Polynesian.
By now it was "now or never" time to make it to the parade at the Magic Kingdom. I told Lisa it was time to leave now if we were going to make it and she said maybe we could catch it later. She admitted that it would be easy to get sucked into sitting by the pool and drinking diet coke from our mugs all vacation. A sweet little mother duck came over to our table and I fed her the bread from Michael's uneaten ham sandwich that had been sitting in my purse for 8 hours (yum!). I know you're not supposed to feed the birds (tuppence a bag), but we were very discreet and only fed the one duck. None of the other birds noticed or came over to cause a scene. Also, the bread has to be better for them than the potato chips that they eat off of the ground (or sometimes right out of the bag off of someone's table).
I went to re-fill our mugs and found a table closer to the slide so we could have a better view of Michael, so we moved over to the new table. Once we were settled I went to get some more coke (since I had been distracted by acquiring the new table) and checked to see if our room was ready. The CM said our room was, indeed, ready and informed me that our room number was 1705.
When I got back to the table, Lemuel was out of the pool and said he would watch Michael while he dried off so Lisa and I could go check out the room. Our room location was super! We were the last room on the north end of the Niue building (the end closest to Samoa) on the ground floor and our patio faced the volcano pool. We had stayed in Rarotonga on our last trip, but I liked this location even better. We were mere steps away from both pools, Captain Cook's, and the GCH. Lisa loved the room and said she didn't know what to start taking pictures of first. We stepped out on our patio and were greeted by some ducks.
Back in the room, I called bell services to bring our luggage and called housekeeping to request turndown service. I called Mother to let her know that we made it safely. She and Dad had had a very hectic day and she said she just kept thinking, "I could have been at Walt Disney World!"
Lisa and I had just finished unpacking when Lemuel and Michael came in. They changed into their clothes and we left at 5:00 to take a ride on the monorail. We just wanted to make the loop all the way around and back to the Polynesian to get some of that Disney magic. Lisa was amazed at how close everything was, especially since on her last trip here we stayed off-site in Kissimmee and had to drive in heavy traffic every time we came to a park. She kept saying, "It just took us 5 minutes to get to the Magic Kingdom!" Ladies and gentlemen, we have a convert!
We were back at the Polynesian by 5:30 and we looked around in the gift shop upstairs at the GCH until time to go down to the lobby for the torch lighting ceremony at 6:00. Michael found (and had to have) the Magical Moments hand-held video game, luckily his Pop Pop (my dad) had given him $20 for spending money when he took us to the airport this morning. The game really is pretty neat. The entrance to certain rides (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Spaceship Earth, etc.) will activate a new game on the machine (there are 16 in all), although we never had the game with us when we rode those rides to see how it actually happens. The instructions that come with the game tell you how to activate the additional games if you miss them at the parks.
After impressing Lisa and Lemuel with the torch-lighting ceremony, we looked around in the downstairs shops while Michael played his new video game. Now I know where everyone is getting their tropical print clothing--the gift stores were full of the stuff!
We checked in at 6:40 for our 6:50 priority seating at 'Ohana. We were seated right at 6:50 and enjoyed a delicious meal. This was my third and Michael's second time to eat here, so we knew we liked it. We were glad that Lisa and Lemuel loved it also. In fact, Lemuel said that he thought it was one of the best places he had ever eaten. The skewers of shrimp were particularly excellent tonight--very spicy. I think I ate 13 of them and Lemuel had at least 20 (shrimp--not skewers)! (In my defense, I just had a bite each of the turkey, pork, and steak and then concentrated my efforts on the shrimp. Lemuel just ate a ton of everything!) Michael participated in the coconut/broom races and hula lessons but didn't do the hula hoop contest. Three adult and one child's dinner, 2 iced teas, one diet coke, and one Mickey Mouse cocktail (7-up and cherry juice with a Mickey skewer (cherries on an orange slice) for Michael) came to $88.96 before tip. We were stuffed.
We were through eating by 8:00 and decided to waddle down to the arcade to let Lemuel and Michael check it out. Lisa and I soon left them there and told them we'd either be in the room or sitting by the beach. On the way back to the room we stopped off at the quiet pool to get some towels to take to Typhoon Lagoon with us the next day and saw some precious baby ducks. We dropped the towels off at our room and picked up our mugs. Turndown service had been by and left us 6 chocolate mints--perfect for Lisa and I to go ahead and steal one for right now and still have another one with Michael and Lemuel later (although I don't know how we ate even one mint after 'Ohana!).
We walked to Captain Cook's and filled up our mugs then settled at a table down by the beach (8:30) to watch the Electric Water Pageant (EWP). The EWP was very quaint and had just finished when Michael and Lemuel arrived. Michael played in the sand until 9:30 and then decided he wanted to go swimming again. I went back to the room with him so he could change into his swimming suit.
Lisa, Lemuel and I watched the fireworks at 10:00 and decided that this was definitely the life! After a few more minutes of sitting, we got Michael out of the pool and headed back to the room. Michael was in bed and asleep by 10:30. I started my trip report notes and worked on them until around 11:00 at which time I joined him.
SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2002
"We're coming back next year!"
Plan: Typhoon Lagoon, MK, Hoop Dee Doo
I woke up at 7:00 this morning and the others quickly followed by 7:30. We packed a bag with the things we'd need at Typhoon Lagoon and were dressed by 8:00 (putting shirts/shorts over our swimming suits). We walked to Captain Cook's for breakfast: cereal and toast with 2 milks for Michael, a muffin for Lemuel, and a bacon, egg and cheese croissant each for Lisa and me ($19.22). We were through eating by 8:20.
The Character Caravan was in the lobby when we walked through the GCH. The characters were Minnie, King Louie, Rafiki, and....Baloo! This was the first time I had ever seen Baloo (although on this trip, we saw him everywhere--you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a Baloo!). I had purchased an autograph book for Michael last night and it was sitting in our room doing absolutely no good. Michael and I had our picture made with Baloo. While we were waiting for Lisa to snap the picture, I said, "Don't you just love waiting for cameras?" Baloo had his arm (paw?) around my neck and just drummed his fingers on my shoulder as if to say, "Oh yes, the waiting is great."
We picked up our car from valet and headed to Typhoon Lagoon. On the trip there, we passed MGM and Michael started asking Disney trivia questions (mostly things he had learned on the Illuminations Cruise we took in November) to Lemuel. His first question was, "Why is the Tower of Terror only 199 feet high?" Lemuel knew the answer was so that Disney didn't have to put an aircraft warning light on the top of it (something required on all buildings 200 feet or higher). Next, he asked how the tower looks taller than it really is (the answer being "forced perspective"). When Lemuel answered that it was an optical illusion, Michael said "No...Disney magic!" We all got a good laugh out of that one.
We got to Typhoon Lagoon at 8:40 and got to park in the first row of the parking lot. They opened the turnstiles at 8:50 so we got to enter the park and wait for the rope drop at 9:00, which gave us a little time to admire our beautiful surroundings. After rope drop, we found a table in the shade and put sunscreen on Michael so he could head straight to the wave pool. Lemuel went to change into his suit (it was still wet from the day before and he didn't want to wear a damp suit to breakfast) while Lisa and I slathered on sunscreen then joined Michael in the wave pool.
What can I say about the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon except "wow!" They alternate surfing waves every 90 seconds (for an hour and a half) with continuous bobbing waves (for thirty minutes) in their *huge* wave pool. The water goes from a zero entry depth up to 8 or 9 feet deep at the back of the pool. They started today with the surfing waves. Every 90 seconds you would hear a great "boom" (as the wave maker pushed air into the water to make the wave) followed by a loud scream of delight as everyone in the wave pool got ready for the wave to come. The wave itself is enormous. Lisa and I had waded in about waist deep when we first heard the boom and the screams. We watched as this huge wave bore down on us and I opened my mouth and said "Oh, shoot!" (or words very similar to that!) as it hit. It was great fun. We quickly went out into the deep water and turned our backs to the wave. You can jump up right before the wave gets to you and it will carry you as far in to shore as you want to go (you can always put your feet down to slow down or stop).
Knowing that this is a family report I still have to confess that the first wave that we were in hit us so hard that it knocked my breast out of my modest bathing suit! I was very careful after that to keep my back to the waves. The four of us had a great time splashing around for awhile before Michael and Lemuel decided to go do some slides and Lisa and I decided to check out the lazy river, Castaway Creek. As Lisa and I were walking out of the wave pool, we didn't notice that a wave was bearing down on us. We were in thigh-deep water when it hit us. The wave knocked both of us over and rolled us both up on the "shore!" We sat in the water laughing as a CM ran over to us to see if we were okay (we were). The "sand" bottom of the pool did give both of our rear ends a good loofah-ing, however!
Michael and Lemuel did the Gang Plank Falls (family raft ride), the Humunga Kowabunga, and one other slide that they didn't remember the name of, before Lemuel got tired of the hike to the top of slides and they decided to go back to the wave pool.
Lisa and I entered the lazy river at the seahorse entrance (#5) and made a complete circle of the river. We decided that "lazy river" was somewhat of a misnomer as it clips along at a pretty good pace in some spots. We were trying to stay together and we got tickled as we bounced along trying to keep a hold on some part of each other's raft or body so as not to get separated. We saw a ton of lifeguards along the bank of the river and Lisa remarked that it certainly seemed like an excessive number of lifeguards since the water was very shallow in the river and what danger could there be? We soon saw the danger as a younger boy somehow managed to flip his raft upside down with only his feet sticking up through the middle of the inner tube as he was dragged along on his head! He righted himself and was fine, but I see how a smaller child could get frightened and not be able to get turned back over.
At various spots along the lazy river there were waterfalls, leaks and sprays designed to get you wet as you float by. Our inner tubes always seemed to head directly under this water so as to give us the maximum soaking! They also have a photographer that wades out into the water and takes your picture. He then gives you a receipt so you can check out (and buy) your picture later in the day. Lisa and I had just come out from under a particularly drenching waterfall when we noticed the photographer approaching us. As we were dripping wet and not particularly mermaid-like at that exact moment I warned him, "Take our picture and you die!" He looked rather alarmed, but let us go by without memorializing our soggy beauty on film.
After we completed our circuit of Castaway Creek we decided we had drank half of the wave pool earlier so we located the restrooms at the front of the park by the dressing rooms. Nothing like trying to pull a wet bathing suit up over a wet body to give you a good aerobic workout!
We made it back to our table just in time to see Michael and Lemuel heading back out into the wave pool. Lisa decided to sit for a while, so I took the waterproof disposable camera I had bought out into the wave pool to take some pictures. I had just caught up with Michael and Lemuel when they changed from surfing waves to bobbing waves (10:30). Lemuel left to go sit with Lisa while Michael and I played around. When they changed back to surfing waves at 11:00, a cry of approval went up from the crowd.
Around 11:45 I got out of the wave pool as Lemuel came back in. Lisa and I went to get us a coke but decided that some pizza sounded good as well so we headed to Leaning Palms for four cheese pizzas and two diet cokes ($23.14). By the time we got our pizza and got back to our table (after talking to a very nice CM from Chicago), Michael and Lemuel were there. Lemuel went to Surf Doggies (which was very close by) to get cokes for him and Michael ($4.86).
After lunch we decided to head back to the Polynesian to rest for a little while. On the way out of Typhoon Lagoon a Cast Member stopped me and asked if I would take a survey, which I did. One of the questions she asked was "Do you have any plans to come back to Walt Disney World in the future?" When she asked this Lemuel piped up and said, "We're coming back next year!" I guess he's having a good time!
Back at the Polynesian we stopped by Captain Cook's and filled our mugs (we had taken them in the car with us after breakfast this morning) and were back in our room by 1:00. Lisa and I took showers and I updated my trip report notes. At 2:00 we decided to go over to the MK and hit some of the rides that wouldn't be open on E-Ride night on Tuesday.
We hopped on the monorail and we were at the MK in no time. After having our bags searched (my purse and Lisa's camera case), I had to stop outside the gates and exchange my annual pass renewal voucher for my new annual pass. There was no line and the process took about 3 minutes.
Once inside, we checked some of the wait times on the board at the end of Main Street. Michael wanted to do Space Mountain (SpM), but we explained that it would be open Tuesday night and we could ride it then with a shorter wait. We then headed to Adventureland and walked right on to Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC). When we had finished sailing the stormy seas, it was 2:40 so we decided to find a spot for the Share a Dream Come True parade at 3:00. I knew that the parade would start in Adventureland and end up at Main Street so I wasn't sure if we would find a decent spot in Adventureland to watch the parade from. However, we got a spot right at the start of the parade across from Pecos Bill's. We were on the front row so we decided to sit down on the pavement--yikes! Talk about hot! I honestly believe I could hear my rear end and legs sizzling on the broiling pavement after just a few seconds!
Fried fanny aside, we had a great view of the parade. Before the start of the parade they played a recording of Julie Andrews talking about the privilege she had of working with Walt Disney and how he had dreamed of making WDW "practically perfect in every way." I must confess that I got a tear in my eye hearing "Mary Poppins" talk about how wonderful Walt was. Lisa looked at me like the hot sun had finally succeeded in frying my brain (where is Sherri Niklewski when you need her--I bet she would cry with me!)!
After the parade, we headed towards Aladdin, stopping along the way to get three bottles of water and an ice cream bar ($10). As soon as Michael finished eating his ice cream, we were able to walk on to Aladdin. We succeeded in getting the camel to spit on us this time (and we were glad for it because of the heat). Next, we made it to the Tiki Room just in time for the next show. Michael doesn't remember the old Tiki room, so he had nothing to compare it with, but Lisa liked the new show.
After the Tiki Room Michael asked if we couldn't go to Tomorrowland for "just one thing?" (meaning Space Mountain) We decided to go see what kind of line there was. We stopped at Buzz Lightyear at 4:15 to pick up Fast Passes (FP) with a return time of 5:15 - 6:15 then walked over to SpM. The stand-by line had a wait time of 55 minutes posted. Lisa said she was ready to sit in a shady spot for a while so Lemuel said he would wait in line with Michael while I stayed with Lisa. After a while, Lisa walked over to the Lunching Pad and got 2 frozen cokes and 2 boxes of character cookies to hold us over 'til the Hoop Dee Doo later tonight. It took Michael and Lemuel the better part of an hour to do SpM.
When they finished with SpM, it was time for our Buzz FP's. I rode with Michael, and Lisa and Lemuel rode together. Michael's score was 600, mine was 9,100, Lisa's was 8,700, and Lemuel's was 139,000. Michael declared that his gun must be broken!
As we headed back to Main Street, we could see lots of characters out around the hub (Goofy, Chip and Dale, Little John (who I had never seen before), etc.). We shopped a little on Main Street on our way out of the park. Michael found a pin he wanted at the pin cart and he bought that.
At 6:00 we hopped on the boat to Fort Wilderness. The boat made a stop at the Wilderness Lodge and then went on to Ft. Wilderness by 6:30. We got off the boat and took a short walk to Pioneer Hall. I had never been to Ft. Wilderness before except to see it from a boat. It is a very nice place. Very neat and clean and shady (hooray for the shade!). They had horse drawn carriages offering carriage rides ($30 for 30 minutes) which I think is new. There were lots of kids around--I think this would be a good place for kids to find new friends to pal around with. It seemed to be easier to meet them here than at most of the resorts.
By this time Michael was fading on us--he was hungry and tired--so we sat him in a rocking chair on the porch of Trail's End while Lisa and I found a restroom. I then walked to the Trading Post and got some bottled water for Michael. We all sat in the rocking chairs for a while just enjoying the nice scenery and beautiful evening. Michael perked up a bit and found the "barrel of fun" foot massage machine and spent several quarters getting his feet massaged. In a few minutes he found two brothers from England who were playing soccer. He joined up with them and they all had a good time for a while.
At 6:45 there was an announcement for everyone going to the 7:15 Hoop Dee Doo to check in at Pioneer Hall. We checked in and were directed to a photographer taking family pictures, but we decided to pass. We went back to our rocking chairs which were too relaxing. At 7:15 they opened the doors to let everyone in. We had a great table right in the center on the second row. Michael asked if I had made arrangements to have a special table for him!
There were two small loaves of bread with honey butter and a bowl of salad on the table. As soon as we saw the food we realized how hungry we were and quickly dived in to both. Our server came by and took our drink orders (milk for Michael, pink lemonade for Lemuel, diet coke for Lisa, and iced tea for me). There was a pitcher of ice water on the table along with jelly jars for glasses. Michael quickly asked our server for more bread--it was his favorite.
After a few minutes, the Hoop Dee Doo players came out and sang a few songs and told some jokes then took a break for a while when the food came out. There was fried chicken, ribs, baked beans and corn (and more bread for Michael--I think we had 4 loaves in all!). The food was all good and we had seconds on both the chicken and the ribs. During this time the actors came out again and went around the room asking for birthdays, anniversaries, newlyweds, graduates, etc. The actors would introduce the person celebrating and tell a little bit about where they were from. They then had us all sing happy birthday for all of the birthday people. After that, they sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" for the folks celebrating anniversaries. There was one couple there that had been married for 50 years. They made the couple get up and dance together during the song--it was very sweet.
Next came the napkin twirling. Michael was so enthusiastic with the twirling that I had to yell "duck and cover!" and hold on to everyone's drink glasses for fear he would knock something over! Afterwards, the actors went back on stage for more show until time for dessert of strawberry shortcake. During the dessert, the actors put on the finale--kind of a "tribute" to Davy Crockett. I won't give away anything but at one point Davy is talking about the battle of the Alamo, except he pronounces it a-LAME-o (on purpose). Michael yelled out from his chair "It's AL-a-mo!" All the actors onstage stopped, turned towards Michael, and said "Thank you." Michael was so tickled that they had talked to him from onstage during the show. They should have known better than to mispronounce "Alamo" in front of a table of Texans!
The show ended right at 9:15. We all thought the Hoop Dee Doo was great. The food was good and we all laughed out loud during the show--it was very funny. The only problem was that the darn "Hoop Dee Doo" song gets stuck in your head and won't go away! We were all singing it for the rest of the night.
We walked back to the boat dock and found at that the MK had closed at 9:00 that night so we had to take the boat to the Contemporary Resort and take the monorail from there to the Polynesian. No big deal. We even got to see a little bit of the EWP from the dock of the Contemporary.
We were back in our room by 10:00. Turndown service had been by and left us a ton of extra towels. Lisa and I took the mugs to Captain Cook's and decided to buy one more mug so Michael could have his own (we only had 3 from my November 2001 trip and Michael usually wanted to drink hot chocolate instead of sharing a coke with his dad). After we got back to the room, Michael was asleep by 10:20. I left a wake-up call for 6:00 the next morning. Lisa and Lemuel were asleep by 10:45. I updated my trip report notes for a while before going to bed around 11:15.
MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2002
"I've got Elvis hair!"
Plan: Animal Kingdom, dinner at Boma
No need for a wake up call for me--I was up at 5:15. While I was in the shower Lisa got the wake up call from Mickey. She was impressed that the mouse himself makes the calls! We had a quick breakfast at Captain Cook's: scrambled eggs, toast and hash browns for Michael, bacon, egg and cheese croissant and fresh pineapple for me, and a Danish each for Lisa and Lemuel ($19.22). We were finished by 7:20.
We picked up the car from valet and were at the entrance to the Animal Kingdom (AK) at 7:40. There were quite a few vehicles already lined up to get into the parking lot, but they didn't start letting them in until around 7:50, which I thought was odd. We parked in the Unicorn section (the only section I've ever parked in here) and decided it was quicker to walk to the entrance than to take the tram, so we hoofed it. The bag searching here seemed to be more thorough than what we encountered at the MK, but we were through soon enough. Once we got up to the turnstiles, we were surprised to find out that AK didn't open today until 9:00. I had thought they opened at 8:00 this morning.
We sat on a planter until 8:45 when they started the opening ceremony. (While we waited, a talking tree came out for a while and amused the crowd. It was too far away for us to see clearly, but Michael went over and watched it for a little bit. Michael said the tree was joking with people in line that their tickets belonged to the tree since they were made out of his relatives.) When they opened the turnstiles several characters were there to greet the crowd: Safari Mickey and Minnie, Goofy, Baloo, Louie, Terk, and Rafiki. Michael got several autographs (I had remembered to put the book in my purse this morning).
We decided to get Fast Passes for the Kilamanjaro Safari (KS) then watch the Festival of the Lion King (FotLK) while we waited for our FP time to come up, so we headed to Africa, stopping along the way to let Lisa and Lemuel admire the scenery. Michael found the drums outside of Mombassa Marketplace in Africa and was immediately distracted, so while Lemuel waited with him, Lisa and I got the Fast Passes (return time of 9:45 - 10:45). When we came back to the marketplace, the African CM was pulling people out of the crowd to start a band. Lemuel had been delegated to the drums and Michael was playing some kind of little clacking, rattle-y thing (yes, I think that is the technical name for it). The CM worked really hard getting probably 15 or so people together in the band and teaching them their respective parts. In the end, they all played together with the CM playing the Marimba (kind of like a wooden xylophone). They actually sounded pretty good! When they were finished, they got together for a group picture, but the batteries in Lisa's camera were low so she didn't get the picture.
After the impromptu jam session, we headed back to Camp Minnie-Mickey to watch the 10:00 show of FotLK. We were seated in the Lion section and everyone enjoyed the show.
After FotLK was over, it was time to use our FP's for KS. I had heard before we left that they had the collapsing bridge working again (it had never worked every time I had ridden KS) and, sure enough, it was. Michael was sitting on the end of the row on the driver's side so he had a great view of the bridge "collapsing." He had a death-grip on my arm and, after we had made it safely across, said, "Was that supposed to happen?!" I assured him that it was. Lisa got frustrated trying to take pictures with her digital camera--the ride is just too bumpy to get really good pictures of the animals unless you are lucky enough to get to stop because of animals in the road. Finally she just put her camera up and enjoyed the rest of the ride. Lisa asked if the driver was really talking to someone on the radio, or was that just part of the ride. This was the first time anyone with me really even paid attention to the poacher plot.
After we arrived back in civilization, Michael decided he wanted to get a pin that he didn't care about so he could trade (we had forgotten to pack his lanyard this trip) so we stopped at a pin cart where he (I) bought a pin of Lilo's doll from Lilo and Stitch. Michael pinned it on his shirt and later that morning when I asked him if he was going to find a CM to make a trade with, Michael said that he was growing fond of the pin and he thought he would just keep it.
We slowed down for a moment to get two bottles of water and a frozen banana for Michael ($7.50) and take a bathroom break. On our way out of Africa we spotted two water tanks made to look like make-shift outdoor showers. They had a rope that, when pulled, would release a mist of water from the shower head. Michael and Lisa immediately went over to get misted and cool off. When Michael was finished, his hair was covered with a fine mist of water droplets. I remarked that it made his hair look shiny. "I have Elvis hair!" Michael said. "His hair was alway shiny!" Where does he get this stuff?
We headed to Discovery Island to get FP's for It's Tough To Be a Bug (ITTBAB) with a return time of 12:20 - 1:20, then went into Dinoland to watch the 12:00 show of Tarzan Rocks. Michael either didn't enjoy the show as much as he did last trip, or he was just wiped out, because he fell asleep during the last 5 minutes of the show! After the show was over (12:30), the window on our ITTBAB Fast Passes had begun so we stopped by Primeval Whirl to get another FP there (return time 1:20 - 2:20), before heading for the Tree of Life.
We saw ITTBAB and Michael liked it much better this year (he cried last time he saw it in November of 2000). He did, however, take his 3-D glasses off once or twice, lean forward during the stinging, and stand up for the exiting bugs. He still tried to reach out and touch the little blue butterfly when he had his glasses on.
After ITTBAB, we decided to grab a bite for lunch before riding Primeval Whirl. I wanted to try Tusker House (their peanut crusted chicken sounded good) or Flame Tree Barbeque, but Michael heard "McDonalds" and wanted to eat at the Restaurantosaurus, so we went there instead. It started raining right as we entered the restaurant and it quickly became very crowded as everyone hurried to seek shelter. We had cheeseburgers and fries all around (a double cheeseburger for Lemuel), four soft drinks, and two of Walt's favorite Lemon Bars ($36.57). The people at the table next to us left their camera bag behind when they were through with lunch. Lemuel remembered what they looked like so he dashed outside to see if he could find them before they got too far away. He didn't catch up with them so we turned the camera bag into a CM. I hope the people remembered where they left it and picked it up later.
After we finished eating we went to take advantage of our FP's for Primeval Whirl. We were very full from lunch and joked about the ride becoming the Primeval Hurl! Michael, Lemuel, and I rode (Lisa isn't overly fond of roller coasters) while Lisa looked through Chester & Hester's gift shop. We all thoroughly enjoyed the ride and, luckily, never felt the need to hurl.
Next, we headed to Dinosaur. The stand-by time said 25 minutes, but we decided to try it anyway. Sure enough, we were on the ride in less than 15 minutes. This was Michael's first time to ride Dinosaur and he was worried about being scared. I assured him that the dinosaurs were just robots. I had forgotten how many times that darn Carnotarus (sp?) shows up. Michael hid is face a lot, but said he enjoyed the ride.
As we were getting out of our vehicle, I noticed that the rider who had sat in my seat before me had left a straw hat in the storage net. It must be the day of leaving your personal items behind. I took the hat with us to turn in to a CM. We had just walked into the gift shop when I heard, "There it is!" A lady and her family had spotted her hat. They were amazed at their luck of finding it so quickly and I was glad to be able to return it.
We went to go look at our picture from Dinosaur and died laughing! In the jeep was Lemuel, Me, empty seat where Michael should have been, then Lisa! Apparently Michael spent more time in the floorboard than I originally realized. All you could see was what looked like a striped shirt laid across the seat where he was completely bent over double with his head in the floorboard! Of course, we had to get two copies of the picture to show everyone at home the ride that Michael almost rode! We looked around in the gift shop for a few minutes and I bought Michael a large and a small stuffed dinosaur there.
By now it was 3:30 and we all decided that we were tired and hot and ready to go rest for a while. The only big things that we had missed were Kali River Rapids and the parade. Even Lisa didn't want to wait around until 4:00 for that. We got caught in a small shower on the way out of the park and were stopped again at the gate to take another survey.
There was a tram waiting but it looked almost full so we decided to just walk to the car instead. We all had our Planet of the Apes walks going so as we lurched along we passed the time with a little chant: (Everybody say "Ohhhhh!" (Ohhhhh!). Everybody say "Owww!" (Owww!)
Back in our room at the Polynesian, Lemuel went to go fill our mugs for us while I called home. Lemuel went to the arcade and Michael and I decided to go for a swim (Lisa said she would come with us and sit by the pool). We went to the quiet pool but it was closed. We walked over to the volcano pool and it was closed also. A CM told us that the pools were closed because lightning had been spotted in the area. The CM said they were required to keep the pool closed for 30 minutes after the last lightning strike before they were allowed to re-open them.
Michael decided he would go to the arcade with his dad. Lisa rested while I took a shower and then I called our younger sister, Paula (lover of all things Disney), to fill her in on our trip so far. Michael and Lemuel came back to the room at 5:45. We all freshened up and were ready to go to the Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) by 6:20.
We picked up the car from valet and were at the AKL by 6:45 for our 7:00 priority seating at Boma. We were seated by 7:05 and quickly made our way to the buffet. Of the food selections, our favorites were the gumbo (Lemuel), the Coca Cola pork loin (Robin), and the prime rib (Lisa). They had some excellent flatbread this evening that both Lisa and I thought was great. Michael mostly stuck to the kids' bar, and, of course, we all loved the desserts! The total for dinner was $79.46 before tip.
After dinner, we walked out to Arusha Rock to look at the animals. Most of the animals were out and about but, alas, no giraffes. We went down to the first floor and walked around the pool to another overlook while Michael played on the Hakuna Matata playground. Lisa and Lemuel both agreed that the AKL was gorgeous. We left for the Polynesian around 9:00.
Back in our room, Michael quickly changed into his swimming suit and went to the volcano pool to swim while Lisa, Lemuel, and I watched the fireworks by the beach. Quite a few people had gathered on the beach to watch the fireworks. A group of people who had just checked in was walking by and asked why we were all on the beach. When someone replied that we had gathered to watch the fireworks, a lady in the group of newcomers said, "I didn't realize we were that close to Epcot." Duh! No one even had the heart to correct her--we all just kind of turned away and let her group go on.
After the fireworks were over, Lisa and I went back to the room while Lemuel stayed with Michael. Lisa took a shower while I worked on my trip report. Lemuel and Michael came in at 11:00 when the pool closed. Lemuel said he had been falling asleep in his chair by the pool.
Michael said that he couldn't sleep in a hotel room if there was even just one little light on. The next thing out of his mouth was snoring.
TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2002
"That was the DUDE!"
Plan: Breakfast at Chef Mickey's, DisneyQuest, MK E-Ride Night
I was awake at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 this morning. At 6:30 I finally just stayed up and took a shower. Lisa was up next, followed by Michael. We had to wake Lemuel up at 8:15. He quickly got dressed and we left for breakfast by 8:30.
We took the monorail to the Contemporary Resort (CR) and checked in at the podium at Chef Mickey's. They had no record of our priority seating and asked if I had my confirmation number. Luckily, I did. When they checked the number it came up as 9:15 *PM*! Yikes. They were very nice about it and said they would try to get us seated as close to 9:15 AM as possible. While we waited, Michael and Lemuel got their picture made with Goofy.
We were actually seated right at 9:15 and immediately went to get our food before the characters started coming around. Mine and Lisa's favorite item on the buffet was Minnie's breakfast pizza--very tasty. We had just started eating when Chip stopped by. I told Chip that Lemuel was a chef also. Chip motioned that he cooked Michael's food. Michael said it was very good and Chip motioned that he had cooked *everyone's* food. I said that I bet Dale didn't even help and Chip nodded "yes" and wiped his brow. I said Dale was worthless and Chip shrugged and nodded as if to say "Whatcha gonna do?!"
Minnie came by next, and then Pluto. We had almost finished eating when Dale stopped by. I told him I had heard Chip say that Chip cooked the whole meal by himself. Dale motioned "no" that he had cooked it. He signaled that Chip was crazy!
A couple of times during our meal we did the napkin twirling thing. Michael gets very enthusiastic with his twirling. I am actually not very good at napkin twirling--mine always gets all tangled up and won't twirl for long.
Mickey himself came by last and Michael and Lemuel got their picture made with him. Michael got autographs from all the characters. Our total bill was $60.38 before the tip.
After breakfast we went back up to board the monorail. I asked if the front of the monorail was available and it was. Lisa and Lemuel were both impressed with the view. The driver was very nice and we wound up talking about Prairie Dogs with him. We saw the same driver later during the week and he remembered us and spoke to us for a minute.
When we arrived at the Polynesian (10:45), we picked up our car from valet and drove to Downtown Disney in order to go to Disney Quest. We got to Disney Quest right at 11:00 and found out that they weren't opening until 11:30 this week! We looked around in the Emporium for a bit before lining up at 11:15. They began to let us in around 11:20. You would think they could come up with a more efficient way of letting people in Disney Quest besides the cyberlators (elevators). It took quite a while to get in because of the slow loading and limited capacity.
Once we made it to the elevators and up to Ventureport (the starting point on the third floor), we immediately followed the sign to the Explore Zone which led us back down a staircase to the first floor! Wow, this place is confusing. There seem to be elevators and stairways around every corner.
We went to Pirates of the Caribbean first. The CM there explained that we would be a team of four: one captain (I was elected) and three gunners. It was my (the captain's) job to steer our ship alongside of other pirate ships so my crew could work themselves into a lather firing the cannons at the bad guys until they were blasted into tiny particles of anti-matter. Once the evil pirates had been sunk (apparently we were the *good* type of pirates) we then automatically confiscated their treasure. At the end of the ride, there would be a ghost ship we would need to sink before it could send us into the briny deep. Arrrgh!
We strapped on our goggles and it was anchor's away. I thought we were doing fairly well until a giant sea creature took a bite out of our ship's deck and the ghost ship sank us. Our ranking was "Swabbies!" Humbling, at best, although we did wind up with 2,639 pieces of gold. After our adventure on the high seas it was very hard not to limp along on my wooden leg and growl things like "avast" and "me matey's!" I would have liked to do this one again now that we knew what to expect.
Not being able to get the salt water out of our veins, we next headed to the Virtual Jungle Cruise. On this ride, your group of 4 sits in front of a large screen in an inflatable raft which rests on a large air mattress. Once your crew is aboard, they inflate the air mattress which tosses your craft about to simulate the motion of the water. Everyone has paddles which they have to use to steer and propel your craft through the course.
This ride was hard work. We were exhausted when it was done. We did get amused at the CM loading the ride. She was trying to explain to a group of foreigners that did not speak English very well that they had to keep their paddles in the "water" (on the air mattress) or the boat wouldn't go. She would put the paddle in the water for them and they would immediately put them back in the boat. She patiently showed them how to put their paddles in the water several times before starting their ride and each time the guests would put their paddles right back in the boat when she was finished. As she walked away from them she shook her head in dismay and muttered under her breath, "They're not going anywhere!"
After the Jungle Cruise we stumbled around until we finally found Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride upstairs on the 2nd floor. Our duty was to pilot our magic carpets through the streets of Agrabah and the Cave of Wonders, picking up jewels along the way so we could defeat Jafar. Each member of a four-man team sits on a motorcycle-looking seat--you pilot your "carpet" using the handlebars. Then, a virtual reality helmet is placed on your head. If you look to the side at your teammates, they all look like Abu (the monkey), but they have on different colored vests (mine was pink, thank you very much)!
This ride made me highly motion-sick. Blah! It was fun, but once we got off I just wanted a coke and a place to sit down that didn't move. As we walked through the 2nd floor, looking for the elevator, we saw the entrance to Cyberspace Mountain (where you can design and ride your own roller coaster). Michael and Lemuel took off to do that, so Lisa and I wandered around the Create Zone and tried various things.
We first did Sid's Create-a-Toy. You basically put together a toy on computer out of various parts you find lying about Sid's room. When you are finished you can purchase a model of your toy if you like. Interesting, but I don't really think I would want a doll with a kangaroo body, girl's head, and horse legs. Maybe it's just me.
Next we tried the Magic Mirror. Here you sit at a desk that takes a picture of your face and puts it on a screen. You can then play with your image (twist it, swirl it, make parts of it bigger than others, etc.) and add different facial parts (ears, eyes, hair, teeth, glasses, etc). This was fun and we got some pretty hilarious results. Again, you could purchase your finished product when you were done.
After the Magic Mirror, we moved on to the Radio Disney Songmaker. At this attraction, you step into a booth and are able to write lyrics to a song and have it sung with various music and vocal styles. At first we thought that we had to sing (and there was no way we were going to do that), but after we found out that someone else supplies the vocal talent we were ready to try it out. We picked a song called "Girls are Better than Boys." You get to choose what music style you want (country, Latin, hip-hop, rock, etc.) and what singing style (female lead Latin, male lead hip-hop, etc.) then you get to "write" the lyrics one line at a time. They display quite a few choices for each line in the song, so you have lots of combinations to choose from.
When you're done with the lyrics they let you "mix" the recording, choose your CD and CD cover style, and even name your group. You may purchase the finished product. Lisa and I both thought our song was quite the masterpiece.
When we came out of the song booth, Michael and Lemuel walked by looking for us. (Honestly, I don't think these two could have found us if we jumped up and down and waved our arms in the air! What's that? We *were* jumping up and down and waving our arms in the air? Quite right.) We chased them down and I asked Michael how he had like CyberSpace Mountain. He answered, "Oh, man! That was the DUDE!" (I think that means he enjoyed it.) He was very excited about the ride, even though his was only ranked as a 2 (with 1 being the tamest and 5 being the wildest).
We decided to go up to Food Quest on the 5th floor to get that coke I had been needing since getting off of Aladdin. As soon as we stepped off the elevator, we lost Michael and Lemuel to two video games. Lisa and I said we'd be at Food Quest and left them to defend the world from giant aliens or Pac men or whatever.
Lisa and I got two refillable cups (good for one day only and the refills cost $1.06 with tax) of diet coke for $5.83. We had just sat down at a table when Michael and Lemuel walked by looking for us and I had to chase them down again. Michael said he was hungry (it was 1:45) so we went to get food. Michael had the kid's pasta with Alfredo sauce (which was huge! An adult could have easily gotten full on this meal), Lisa and I had a slice of cheese pizza each, Lemuel had a Barbequed chicken sandwich, and we all shared an order of garlic rolls and cheese fries. The food, along with a small coke for Michael and a diet coke refill, came to $26.69.
Lemuel inhaled his food and then left to go next door to the Midway on the Moon which was full of classic video games like Centipede, Pac Man, Tron, Missile Command, Defender, and so on. When Michael finished eating I asked him if he wanted to go play some video games. He replied that he didn't have any money and when I reminded him that the games were free he vanished before our very eyes and reappeared instantly in the next room!
Lemuel showed back up after a few minutes and we all left to play some video games. After a while, we decided to go back down to the 3rd floor where we found Tempest (my all-time favorite) and Moon Patrol, along with a slew of others. We were in heaven! I watched Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters for a few minutes--it looked like a lot of fun--and we saw the Mighty Duck's Pinball Slam, which looked very tiring.
After a while, Lisa and I decided that the Wonderland Cafe on the 4th floor was calling our names. The Wonderland Cafe has tables with limited internet access computers and, more importantly, desserts! We sat on some bar stools for a few minutes while we waited for a table to open up then I grabbed the table while Lisa got refills of our diet coke and two pieces of cheesecake (white chocolate raspberry truffle and some kind of brownie-crust, hot-fudge sundae cheesecake). I can't find the receipt, but I think the cheesecake was around $5 per slice and the slices were huge.
We played around with the computer a little and sent a e-mail card to our dad. After we quit using the computer, the Cheshire Cat (who is on the computer screen and helps explain how to navigate, send e-cards, etc) would not shut up. He kept saying things while Lisa and I were trying to talk until we finally had to turn the sound off because he was so distracting!
Lemuel and Michael finally joined us around 4:15 and helped us finish off the cheesecake. We decided we had better leave since we wanted Michael to take a nap before E-Ride Night tonight. We all enjoyed Disney Quest and wished we had longer to explore. I don't think we did even a quarter of the things to do. We'll have to come back some day.
We did stop back by the 2nd floor before we left and purchased the video of Michael and Lemuel's roller coaster that they created and the "Girls are Better than Boys" song that Lisa and I wrote.
Since we were so close, Lisa wanted to quickly stop at the World of Disney store to look for some gifts for the couple that were keeping Lisa and Lemuel's dog for them. Michael was tired so I waited in the car with him while Lisa and Lemuel went to the store. Michael soon fell asleep and slept the entire time they shopped (4:45 - 5:30).
We were back at the Polynesian by 5:45 and briefly stopped to talk to some of the front-desk CM's on the way in. Everyone is so friendly here. Turndown service had already been to our room and had put leis on our pillows this evening. Michael crawled right in to bed and went back to sleep. Lemuel went to the gift shop to buy some post cards, Lisa napped, and I worked on my trip report notes.
Michael woke up at 6:30 and Lisa got up at 7:00. We freshened up then took the monorail to the MK and were there by 7:45. Main Street was pretty crowded as people were already starting to line up for Spectromagic at 9:00. We stopped on Main Street to exchange our E-Ride tickets for our wristbands then went in search of something to eat. Mexican food sounded good so we went to El Pirata Y el Perico in Adventureland, but it was closed. Michael wanted to see the Tiki Room again, but it had also already closed.
We decided to eat at Cosmic Ray's since it was conveniently located between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. My big gripe about Cosmic Ray's is that you can't order everything at one counter. They have three different counters which all serve different items. We usually wind up going to all three counters (which means you have to wait in three separate lines), and tonight was no exception. Michael wanted chicken strips and milk ($7.30) at one counter, Lisa got a hot dog and fries and a diet coke and Lemuel got a cheeseburger, fries and a coke ($15.76) at another counter, while I got a cup of cream of chicken soup, a stacked sandwich, and water ($11.31) and the third counter.
After we finished eating, we walked to Fantasyland. Michael wanted to ride the teacups so Lemuel rode with him. They didn't spin, however, because they were both full from supper and didn't want to get sick! We checked the Winnie the Pooh line afterwards, but it was too long so we went to It's a Small World instead and walked right on. Michael wanted to ride Dumbo next (was this the child who said Fantasyland was to "baby" for him last trip and would barely even ride Peter Pan with me?), so while he and Lemuel went to do that, Lisa and I went back to Pooh which had a very short wait by now.
We had promised our sister Paula that we would bounce with Tigger for her. This was Lisa's first time to ride Pooh and she thought it was a sweet ride. We had just finished when Michael and Lemuel caught up to us after having ridden Dumbo. It was almost 10:00 by now so we started walking towards Tomorrowland and Space Mountain. The fireworks soon started and we stopped outside of Cosmic Ray's to watch them.
It was now officially E-Ride time so we quickly went to Space Mountain. The line started right outside the entrance, but it moved continually and we were blasting off in about 10 minutes. The ride didn't seem as jerky as the last time I rode it. After a quick bathroom break we went to Buzz which had a little bit of a line so we hopped on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) instead. I love this ride. I know it's not very exciting but it sure kicks up a nice breeze on a hot night!
As soon as we entered Space Mountain aboard the TTA, we noticed that the lights were on! Apparently the ride had broken down and they had to bring the lights up to work on it. This was the first time we had ever seen inside the mountain with lights, so we were pretty excited. You could see all of the track and there were some CM's walking along a portion of it. I would have guessed that, when you were on the TTA, you would be about level with the top of the Space Mountain track, but the track went much higher than the level of the TTA.
Back outside of Space Mountain we noticed that they were turning people away at the entrance. Michael wanted to go back through Space Mountain with the lights on again, so we stayed on the TTA for another lap. This time we noticed that there was a car full of people right at the top of the first hill that were stuck there until they fixed the ride.
After we finished our second run on the TTA we went to Buzz Lightyear and walked on. We sent Michael with Lemuel this time and Lisa and I both took our own cars. Michael's score was 2,800, Lemuel's was 144,000, mine was 46,100, and Lisa's was 21,000.
Next we headed toward Liberty Square to the Haunted Mansion (HM). As we passed the hub on Main Street, we saw that the characters were out. My sister Paula and I had so much fun playing with the characters during an E-Ride Night last May that it was tempting to stay but Michael was wanting to ride tonight, so we pressed on. Michael had never ridden the HM before and he was nervous at first but he soon relaxed and enjoyed the ride. We saw the new Madame Leota tombstone, but we weren't outside long enough to see her move.
We went to Splash Mountain next. Lisa sat this one out so Michael, Lemuel and I went. Michael and I were in the front of our log, but I only got wet on one side and Michael just got slightly damp.
Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road was the last ride on our list and there was about a 5 minute wait before we were on our train. Michael and I got to sit in the very last car. I found out that Lemuel had never ridden this before but he soon declared it a favorite. As soon as we got off, Michael wanted to do it again, so while I went to keep Lisa company, Lemuel and Michael went back for more. This time, the CM let them stay on three times in a row.
It was now a few minutes after 1:00am and E-Ride Night was over so we slowly headed toward the exit. On the way out we got to see the Kiss Goodnight from Main Street at 1:15. Michael was pretty beat by now and couldn't understand why we were just looking at the castle. We walked out of the park and onto the monorail and were back at the Polynesian by 1:40.
Michael immediately went to bed and was soon fast asleep. Lemuel took our mugs to Captain Cook's and filled them up while I got some ice so I could have some ice water. Lisa was soon asleep. I updated my notes until 2:30 and Lemuel came to bed shortly after that.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2002
"This is the life."
Plan: Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, Move to Beach Club, Epcot, Illuminations Cruise
I woke up at 6:45 (Bleah! Not enough sleep!), got my shower, and was mostly packed by 7:30. Lisa woke up around that time, and Michael and Lemuel slept until 8:30. We were packed and ready to go by 9:20. I called bell services and they were at our room in less than 5 minutes. The CM said that our luggage should arrive at the Beach Club sometime after 1:00 this afternoon.
We said "Aloha" to our room and then hopped on the monorail and went to the Grand Floridian for breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. Our priority seating wasn't until 10:20 but we checked in at 9:45 and were seated immediately. Mary Poppins was in the lobby. Michael got her autograph and his picture made with her. The characters today were Pooh, Eeyore, Alice, and the Mad Hatter.
Eeyore came to our table before we even had time to go get some food. We asked how he was this morning and he made a "so-so" gesture with his hand (hoof?). He signed Michael's autograph book and turned the "Y" in his name into his tail, complete with bow.
I was surprised that they served their strawberry soup at breakfast so I made everyone try it (I had tried it last year when we ate here for the Villain’s Dinner). They all liked the soup. Also popular were the cheesy hash browns and the cream cheese blintzes. Michael said their gravy was better than at Chef Mickey's. After trying one biscuit with gravy he went to the buffet and came back with a bowl full of biscuits and gravy! "This is the life," he said, as he sat the bowl on the table and began to eat!
We were finished with breakfast at 10:45 and were back at the Polynesian by 11:10 for our last good-bye. We picked up our car (Lemuel was thrilled that bell services were transferring our luggage for us he didn't have to try and load all the bags into the trunk again) and drove to the Beach Club.
As soon as we got to the Beach Club, Michael became the tour guide. "Welcome to the Beach Club!" he said as we walked through the entrance. We saw Art, the greeter, and then went up to the 5th floor to check in using the key I had received earlier in the mail.
As we sat down upstairs to check in, Lemuel was impressed that the CM's asked us if we needed anything to drink. Lemuel asked for some water and they brought him a huge glass bottle of imported water! Lisa and I stuck with diet cokes and Michael had a coke. Our room was not ready so we went back downstairs to check out the pool after Michael gave Lisa and Lemuel a quick tour of the lounge.
I had Michael's swimming suit with me so he quickly changed and headed for the whirlpool. CM's were checking your resort ID this morning and issuing wristbands. We found a table, got some towels and filled our Beach Club mug. Lisa and Lemuel went to look around in the gift shop while I stayed with Michael. They came back with a Beach Club pin for me that is different than the one I got on my last trip.
At 1:30 I went upstairs to get some snacks to bring down to the pool. One of the concierge CM's (Vilma or Wilma was her name) recognized me from our trip in November. She asked if Mother was with me again this time. I asked her if our room was ready and it came up on her computer as not quite finished. She went to double check for me and, sure enough, the housekeeper had just finished with it so she activated our room keys. We were in room 5657 which was very close to the lounge and elevators.
In the lounge this after noon they had the following: popcorn, pretzels, fruit roll ups, pudding cups, nuts, vegetables and dip, raisins, whole fruit, bacon-wrapped breadsticks, cookies (sugar, oatmeal, chocolate chip, and white-chocolate macadamia), cheesecake, and chips and salsa. I grabbed a plate of cookies and went downstairs to get Michael out of the pool.
We all came back upstairs to the room. I called home to let Mom and Dad know our room number. There was no answer so I left a message. We unpacked while Michael went to the gift shop to look for a Wonder ball (a hollow chocolate ball filled with Disney-character shaped candy). When we were at the candy store at the MK, Michael had wanted a Wonder ball. It was so hot that I was afraid it would be a melted mess before we could get back to the Polynesian with it so I told him I would get him one when we got back to the Polynesian. Needless to say, we forgot about it by the time we got to the resort. He quickly remembered, however, when he saw that they had wonder balls on the mini-bar in our room at the Beach Club. He couldn't find any in the gift shop so I let him have the one off of the mini-bar ($3.06 on my bill--Ack!).
It was now 3:00. Lisa and Michael went to the lounge to get a snack. Michael got sucked into the TV in the lounge and stayed there. Lemuel fell asleep and I updated my notes. Lisa said she needed to do some laundry so we decided that she should go do it now and we would go to Epcot later for the 6:15 Tapestry of Dreams parade.
Lisa left to do her laundry and I went down to the lounge to tell Michael that he could come watch TV in the room. He came back to the room with me and turned on Toon Disney. Lemuel was still asleep and I took a nap from 3:30 until 4:15.
After I woke up, I got up and got dressed. Lisa showed back up at 5:15 and we woke up Lemuel then went to the lounge for some food. Tonight they had mini-corndogs, barbequed chicken tartlets, mini pizzas (cheese, sausage, and pepperoni), vegetable tortilla roll ups, flour tortilla chips with sugar and cinnamon, uncrustables (Smucker's crust less peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, edam, pink cheese(?!), and green cheese (?!?)), crackers, ants on a log (celery stuffed with peanut butter and raisins), gummi worms, and vegetables and dip.
After some snacks, we walked to Epcot through the International Gateway at 6:00. The living statue was out in France and we were greatly amused by her antics for a while. We jogged through Morocco (I had joked that I was *not* going to Morocco this trip because in November I met a very persistent CM named Adil in Morocco. His manager tried to fix us up when he found out that I was from Texas because Adil wanted to see Texas. Adil had called our room at the Beach Club and asked me out to lunch and, after we returned home, *really* surprised me by calling my house! To this day I do not know how he got my phone number. Adil was very sweet but, since he was roughly half my age, I discouraged his advances and our May-December romance quickly came to an end. Also, my dad didn't have enough camels to make my dowry, so the relationship was doomed from the start! It wasn't all for naught, however, because I did learn that Casablanca is the capital of Morocco (Adil was from Casablanca). I think it's important to take something positive with you from any relationship!) Anyway, as we were moving briskly through the pavilion, Michael asked if we really had to run through Morocco. Not at all, kid. Just hush and keep moving!
We found a bench in Japan on the lagoon side of the pavilion to watch the parade from. I am not much of a parade person, but I do love this parade. However, I think it is better after dark for some reason.
After the parade, the drummers came out to perform in Japan. While Lisa and Lemuel watched, I took Michael around the corner to get him a Kaki Gori (shaved ice--our first time to try one). Michael got a honeydew melon/strawberry and I got a tangerine ($4.50). They were delicious and very refreshing in the heat.
We headed back to the Beach Club and were back in our room by 7:30. I called Mother and talked to her until 8:00. At 8:00 we left for the marina and our Illuminations Cruise. Our captain was Scott from Pennsylvania who was very nice. As we cruised around the lake, Scott pointed out the large black squares on the Swan and Dolphin resorts. He said that they designed the hotels so that they could remove the rooms in the black areas in case they ever extended the monorail to go through their hotels. He also talked a little about the new Mission: Space attraction. He said that the Imagineers are being very secretive about it, only saying that it will be not like anything we've ever seen before. Scott said he had heard that they were going to try to create a feeling of weightlessness on the attraction. He said that NASA and Compaq are helping out on the attraction. Darn, sounds like we'll have to force ourselves to come back and check it out!
As we sailed into Epcot and docked under the bridge between the United Kingdom and France, we got to hear a little bit of Off-Kilter playing. Lisa liked them right away and said she was going to have to look for one of their CD's. The boat next to us shared their dessert tray and fruit tray with all of the boats. They had just finished a huge supper and had arranged for dessert on their cruise but were too full to eat much of it. Everything I tried was delicious. Captain Scott told us that it costs Disney $35,000 per night for Illuminations. Yikes.
The show was beautiful as always and we were very lucky that the wind (which was fairly strong tonight) was blowing away from us so we didn't have to deal with the smoke. Afterwards, the marina radioed the boats that they needed to come straight back because a storm was heading our way. Scott said that, for some strange reason, they didn't really like to have the *metal* pontoon boats filled with people out on the water when there was lightning in the area!
We all agreed that our second favorite part of the cruise (besides the great view of Illuminations) was getting to ride back to our hotel instead of having to fight the crowds and walk out!
After we docked at the marina and said our good-bye's to Scott, we cut through the Yacht Club so Lisa and Lemuel could see a little of it's interior and so we could stay out of the storm. Michael was hungry for "a meal," since we had really only snacked at the lounge since our meal at breakfast. The line at Beaches and Cream was very long so we decided we would just order some room service.
We stopped in the lounge (9:40) for some cokes to take to the room with us, then ordered a cheeseburger for Michael and a cheese pizza for the rest of us from room service ($40.36). The food arrived at 10:30 and we were finished eating by 11:00. Michael, Lisa and Lemuel went straight to bed. I worked on my trip report for a while before following them.
THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2002
"Now this complicates things."
Plan: breakfast at lounge, MGM, lunch at '50's Prime Time, Fantasmic!
I was awake at 6:00 this morning. By the time I was finished with my shower, Lisa was up also. We got dressed and went down to the lounge for the ever important diet coke (and some breakfast, too). This morning in the lounge they had whole fruit, cereal, croissants, bagels, white and wheat bread, Texas toast, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, banana bread, cream cheese bear claws, jelly, chocolate and plain donuts, donut holes, blueberry muffins, apple strudel, milk, and orange, cranberry and apple juices.
Michael and Lemuel were awake when we got back to the room. I went back to the lounge and got some cereal and toast for Michael, and Lemuel went and picked out his own food.
We left our room for MGM at 8:30. We walked to the Yacht Club and a boat was just leaving as we were walking up. We waited maybe 5 minutes for the next boat. We took the boat and were at MGM by 9:00. "MGM Mommy! We're at MGM!" shouted a little girl of about 5 as soon as the giant hat was in sight. The line for the bag search took a long time here.
As soon as we were through the turnstiles we headed down Sunset Boulevard to get Fast Passes for Tower of Terror (ToT) with a return time of 10:15-11:15. Then, we all got in line for the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (RnR) except for Lisa. The stand-by time said 35 minutes but we were in and out in about 30.
We still had 15 minutes until time for our ToT Fast Passes. Lisa (who wasn't going on the Tower of Terror with us) decided to take our tickets and go get Fast Passes for all of us for Who Wants to be a Millionaire (WWTBAM) while we rode ToT. Lemuel looked around in the RnR gift shop and Michael got a bottle of water ($2.50) and went to the restroom while we waited for our FP time.
The stand-by line for ToT had an hour wait as we went breezing through the Fast Pass line. Before entering the library, I showed Michael the sign with the letters in the bottom that spell out "Evil Tower U R Doomed." Michael was excited about the ride this time instead of being apprehensive like he was last time he rode it and, sure enough, he loved it this time. The drop sequence was different again from the last time I rode in May. We bought a few things in the gift shop at the end of the ride and had them sent back to our room.
After we left the gift shop (11:00), Michael said he was hungry so we stopped at Toluca Turkey Legs and got him a baked potato and a bottle of water ($4.93). He ate the potato as we walked over to meet Lisa in front of WWTBAM.
Our Fast Passes for WWTBAM were for 11:15-11:30--perfect timing! We sent Lemuel with our tickets to get Fast Passes for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid (VotLM) (return time of 1:05-1:15) before we went in to WWTBAM. Lisa said she had looked around a little at the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream exhibit while she waited for us and that she would like to spend some more time there.
We all enjoyed the WWTBAM show very much although not one of us ever made it on the leader board. How do they enter their answers so fast? I was not good at the first question of putting things in order but after that I was correct on every answer and always pushed my answer right away when the keypad first lit up. It's okay though, I don't think I would enjoy being in the hot seat anyway. Michael wanted to know if we could trade in our points (as the audience) for prizes and I explained to him that only the person in the hot seat got to get prizes. I thought the host was very funny.
After WWTBAM, we still had some time to kill before time for VotLM, so we went on the Great Movie Ride. As we entered the inside queue area where they are playing scenes from the movies I heard a young boy disappointingly say, "Dad! It's just a big TV!" We were on the cowboy side and Michael was impressed with the fire in the western scene and the snakes from Indiana Jones.
After the Great Movie Ride, it was almost time for Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We stopped and got Michael a fruit bar ($2.25) and then watched the Little Mermaid solve all of her problems, find her man, and live happily every after.
Afterwards, we took a minute to plan what to do next. We were all hot and hungry (except for Michael who had consumed the baked potato and fruit bar). Michael wanted to go back to the Beach Club and swim, but Lemuel wanted to do Star Tours. I said I would take Michael swimming and let Lisa and Lemuel finish doing what they wanted to at MGM, so we split up.
Michael and I made our way out of the park and down to the dock. There was a boat at the dock as we walked up and they held it for us. It was standing room only until we got the Swan/Dolphin and let some people off. We were back at the Beach Club by 2:15 and in our room at 2:30.
Michael went straight to the room while I stopped by the lounge to get us some cokes. They had their usual afternoon snacks out, but their dessert for today was a flan with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I got a piece of the flan and some cookies for Michael and took them to the room. Michael ate some cookies and a little of the flan while I changed into my swimming suit and we were down by the pool at 2:50.
Michael immediately got in and joined a volleyball game in progress. I was wanting some real food for lunch so I went over to Hurricane Hannah's and got an order of chicken strips ($6.50) and filled my mug with diet coke. I sat down at a table next to a family that was maybe Brazilian or Portuguese--some kind of Latin background. Every time a duck walked by, the children would scream and pull their feet up onto their chairs. I didn't want the kids to be scared of ducks so I held a little piece of food out to one of the ducks and it took it out of my hand. The kids were way impressed with me! "Papa! Papa! Esta...blah blah blah!" (my Portuguese is a little rusty) they would say.
I finished eating at 3:15 and hurried to get in the water. It was too hot to even sit in the shade comfortably! I splashed around with Michael for a while until Lemuel showed up around 4:30. He said he and Lisa went directly to Star Tours (15 minute wait) and then got Fast Passes for Indiana Jones. They ate at the ABC Commissary (two orders of fish and chips, a piece of strawberry cheesecake and two drinks for $21.89) but there were no tables available inside so they had to sit outside in the heat. They were tired and hot after lunch so they gave away their Fast Passes and came back to the resort. Later, Lisa said that Lemuel slept all the way to the Beach Club on the boat. Lisa stayed in the room and rested while Lemuel came swimming.
We decided to call it quits about 5:15. Michael and I got milk shakes (chocolate for me, vanilla for Michael) at Beaches and Cream ($10.54) before we went upstairs. We met Lisa going into the lounge. Tonight they had mini egg rolls with sweet and sour sauce, chicken cordon bleu nuggets, miniature open-faced Rueben sandwiches, vegetables and dip, mini corn dogs, cheeses and crackers, uncrustables, ants on a log, and vegetable tortilla roll ups. I think I'm getting hooked on these uncrustables.
Back at the room, I showered while Michael and Lisa watched Toon Disney and Lemuel slept. Turndown service came by but, since Lemuel was asleep on the bed, I declined. The housekeeper was very nice and asked if we needed fresh towels and gave us a double handful of chocolates. I spent some time on my trip report.
At 8:00 we went back down to the lounge to pick up a few desserts for later tonight. They had flan, éclairs, cannoli, sponge cake, German chocolate cake, raspberry/chocolate mousse, chocolate mousse-filled chocolate shells, chocolate tart, chocolate cake, cookies, uncrustables, and gummi worms. We left the desserts in our room and walked over to the Boardwalk.
We started at the east end of the Boardwalk with the ESPN club. We looked around a little in Seashore Sweets (Michael had to have two more of the Wonderballs). and bought a few pins at a pin cart, then sat at a table by the water to rest and have a corn dog. While we were eating, Michael and Lemuel caught the tail-end of a juggling act. As Lisa and I sat at the table and waited for Michael and Lemuel, we spotted an older woman wearing a belly-dancing costume and carrying a boom box. We immediately dubbed her "Fatima" and watched with interest as she set up to perform.
As soon as the juggler was finished, she turned her boom box on and began to dance to the music. Lisa and I got up for a closer look and Michael and Lemuel soon joined us. "Fatima" lit two small batons and began to stick the fire on her tongue and rub the lit batons across her arms and stomach! The audience that had gathered began applauding. I, myself, was unsure that we should actually applaud such behavior--I mean, there were children in the audience, for crying out loud. After she put out the batons (in her mouth--ouch!), she lit a sword and began twirling it around--as if playing with fire wasn't enough, let's add a razor-sharp weapon. Now anyone can swallow a silly old sword, but a silly old sword that's on fire...that's entertainment.
Next, she called up all the children to join her (*after* she had extinguished the flames and put the weapon down, thank goodness!) and taught them how to dance. Michael, his eyes still wide from the flaming sword routine, went up with the rest of the kids. She mostly had the kids just shaking their hips but, at one point, she had them shake their hips *and* walk around in a circle. Michael, who has no rhythm whatsoever, looked over at us and said, "Now this complicates things a little!"
After Fatima wound down, we continued on, shopping our way around the Boardwalk. Lemuel and Michael played some of the carnival games. Lemuel won a stuffed Garfield and Michael won a stuffed flamingo.
By this time we had gone the length of the Boardwalk and finished up at the Atlantic Dance club, so we circled past the Swan and Dolphin and headed back to the Beach Club. We got back to our room at 11:00. Michael immediately went to sleep while Lisa, Lemuel and I ate some of the desserts we had picked out earlier. We were all asleep by 11:45.
FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2002
"Uncle Johnny you're going too fast!"
Plan: breakfast in lounge, Epcot, dinner at Rose & Crown
I woke up at 6:00 this morning. Lemuel was up at 7:00. It sounds like he has taken a cold. Lisa got up at 7:30. Lemuel went to the lounge for breakfast. Lisa and I got dressed then went to get us some breakfast and bring it back to the room. Michael finally woke up around 8:00. I went and got him some breakfast and brought it back to the room for him.
We left for Epcot at 9:15, entering through the International Gateway. We had a nice stroll through the deserted World Showcase. What a good opportunity to take pictures and just enjoy the surroundings. We went to Future World by way of the Rose Garden path and admired all of the beautiful flowers.
Michael talked to a man that was wheeling a robot around. The robot would talk also. Once we were in Future World, we sent Lemuel to get Fast Passes for Test Track. Lisa, Michael, and I waited on a bench and watched the fountain. Lemuel came back with the Fast Passes (return time 12:40-1:40) and said the stand-by line didn't look too bad. I asked if he had noticed what wait time was posted but he had not. He and Michael decided they would go ahead and ride. I told Lisa and Lemuel that I didn't want to go all the way over there just to find out that there was an hour wait.
Lisa looked in Mouse Gears while they were gone. Michael and Lemuel were soon back reporting that the wait time was, indeed, an hour (told you so!). For some reason I had a complete brain-lock and forgot to tell them about the single rider line. I'm sure it would have been shorter.
We decided it was time to introduce Lisa and Lemuel to Beverly at Ice Station Cool. Their responses were hysterical. Michael and I both tried it again, I guess to make sure it was still as nasty as we remembered! Michael was very excited about how bad it tasted and was telling everyone who came in about Beverly. Lemuel told Michael (rather harshly) to be quiet.
We wandered around tasting some more beverages and trying to get the taste of Beverly out of our mouths. Soon I noticed that Michael was missing. I found him sitting on the floor in a corner by the exit, crying. He said that Lemuel had told him to go away. I hugged him and explained that Lemuel didn't really mean it but that sometimes people just lose their patience when they have been together without a break for a long time. We went outside and watched the very end of Kristos' performance (strange alien acrobats). By the time we went back into Ice Station Cool in search of his parents, everything was okay again. We tasted a few more beverages and I decided that I liked the one from Japan the best.
It was now almost 11:00 so we headed to the World Showcase starting with Mexico. Lemuel was looking for some Mexican milk candy to take back to Carlos (the man that was keeping their dog for them), but they did not have it there. We all rode El Rio del Tiempo with no wait and Michael liked it--especially the fireworks. Michael also found a couple of glass animals to buy at Arribas Brothers glass shop.
When we came back outside, Michael decided to start a mask at the Kidcot stations. Lemuel was listening to a mariachi band so Lisa and I decided that we would create our own Food and Wine Festival and try to eat our way around the world! We, of course, started at the Cantina de San Angel. We ordered nachos, a large diet coke and a bottle of water ($11.51). Luckily, Michael and Lemuel quickly came over and helped us eat the nachos.
Next, we moved on to Norway and, while Michael played on the Viking ship, we got a rice cream and an almond pretzel at the Kringla Bakery ($5.60). After we finished our snack, we all rode Maelstrom except for Lisa.
By now it was almost time for our Test Track Fast Passes. Lisa said she really didn't want to ride so I said I would stay with her and we could continue on our way around the countries. Lemuel and Michael could ride twice with the four of our Fast Passes. We told the guys that we would meet them in Japan.
Lisa and I pressed on to China where we got Michael's mask stamped and then watched the Wonders of China (for the first time). I was amazed at the variance in climate of their country from snowy mountains to desert--I had no idea. After the Wonders of China I was craving Chinese food. All the references to Shanghai, Beijing, Yunan, etc. got me hungry for some Beijing Beef, Yunan Pork and Shanghai Chicken! We stopped and got egg rolls at the Lotus Blossom Cafe ($3.29). Yum.
We hurried past the Outpost and on to Germany where we split a bratwurst, a pretzel, and a large diet coke at Somerfest ($10.40). We were getting pretty full by now and made a pact that we didn't have to eat anything in America because, well duh, we ate American all the time! We did take the time to get Michael's mask stamped.
We went through Italy, grateful that they have no real counter service restaurant, only a small stand with some sweets. We cheated and skipped it because we were full. We got Michael's mask stamped and moved on to America.
We had just entered America when it began to rain. We ran for shelter under the porch of the American Adventure and waited while it poured down for about 15 minutes. When the rain let up we got Michael's mask stamped and moved on to Japan.
As soon as we got close to Japan we could see Michael and Lemuel waiting for us. It turns out that Test Track was down and so the guys had just come straight to Japan. Apparently they had been waiting for a long time (it was now 2:00). Michael said he had been worried about us and started to cry--how sweet. They hadn't eaten anything and I figured hunger was playing a big part in Michael's emotions now. I thought Chinese food might sound good to him so I mentioned the Lotus Blossom Cafe and, sure enough, Michael was all for that idea. I was glad since it is at least a little healthier than a hamburger.
Lisa and Lemuel wanted to continue on since Lisa wanted to check at Canada for an Off-Kilter CD (yes, she found one) so we split up after deciding that we would just meet up later back at the Beach Club. So much for eating our way around the world! We were too full for anything else, anyway. I think it's easier during the Food and Wine Festival since the portions are smaller.
As Michael and I back-tracked to China he held my hand the whole way and said that he was glad that nothing had happened to us. We saw Snow White and Dopey as we passed through Germany. Back at the Lotus Blossom (deja vu!) Michael decided on the Lotus Blossom Combination plate (sweet and sour chicken, pork fried rice and an egg roll) and a Sprite. I ordered a side of pot stickers and a strawberry mango smoothie for a total of $15.90. The Chinese food must have hit the spot with Michael because he ate almost every bite.
After we ate, he asked if we could stay and watch the acrobats perform at 3:15 and I agreed. We waited outside until about 3:20 when someone told us that they were performing inside--it was too hot for them outdoors. We dashed inside and caught the end of their show.
Since we were about an equal distance either way from the International Gateway, we decided to head back counter-clockwise (through Norway and Mexico) and maybe take one of the Friendships to Morocco if we didn't have to wait for the boat. As we passed through Mexico, Michael asked if we could ride El Rio del Tiempo again so we did (with no wait although a line had formed by the time we got off the ride).
There was a Friendship waiting at the dock as we walked by so we hopped on and sailed over to Morocco. After a quick jog out of Morocco with a bag over my head, we cut through France where the living statue was out again, and made it back to the Beach Club by 4:15. It started to sprinkle on us right as we made it to the Beach Club. We stopped by the lounge for some cokes and a piece of delicious chocolate cake.
Lisa and Lemuel were both asleep when we got to our room. Michael turned on the TV and rested while he watched Toon Disney. Our package of items we had purchased at MGM had been delivered to our room and Lisa and Lemuel had bought a stuffed classic Eeyore and put it on my bed for me.
I updated my trip notes and drank two diet cokes.
At 5:30, Michael and I went down to the lounge for some snacks. Our selections this evening were mini corn dogs, celery pieces with cream cheese, shrimp and dill, bacon-wrapped scallops, vegetables and dip, cheeses and crackers, tortilla wraps, ham, cheese and cream cheese sandwiches, and uncrustables. Yes, I'm definitely hooked on the uncrustables!
Lisa and Lemuel were up by the time we got back to the room. At 6:00 it started pouring down rain. We decided to wait on going to MGM until we saw if the rain was going to let up or not. Sure enough, it cleared off around 7:00, so we decided to go.
We took the boat to MGM and it started to rain again right as we docked. We went quickly through the gates and stopped to buy Michael a poncho (the disposable ponchos that I brought with us were, of course, in my suitcase back at the Beach Club!) We walked to the Fantasmic! stadium and got seats in the Pocahontas section in Row R by 7:45. Michael and Lemuel decided to go ride Tower of Terror while Lisa and I kept our seats.
While they were gone, Lisa and I were "entertained" by the children of a group of families sitting behind us. Between the families, they had 3 or 4 toddlers between the ages of 2 and 3. These children kicked our backs, stepped on our hands, and pulled our hair to the point where Lisa and I finally just started laughing about it. We couldn't believe that their parents never said a word of correction to the children or of apology to us. I know that's a long time for kids to have to wait and I don't blame them for wanting to climb and play but I had a problem with the parent's never even acknowledging their behavior.
Not long after Michael and Lemuel got back from the Tower of Terror, it began to pour down rain again. Not just a little shower, but an open the flood-gates kind of rain! Now the poor children behind us were wet, cold, and screaming and their parents didn't even try to keep them out of the rain. Lemuel ran to get ponchos for all of us, but we were wet to the bone by the time he came back.
The clouds just kept getting darker and darker and by 8:40, we decided to leave. There was no way they could put on the show with it raining like it was and there was no sign of it letting up. We caught the boat at 9:00 and got to see part of Illuminations on our way back to the Beach Club. The rain did let up a bit on our way back. We had just docked at the lighthouse when we heard the music and saw the lights for Fantasmic! come on! The show did go on. Oh well, we just weren't in the gambling mood tonight, I guess.
As we walked back to the Beach Club from the dock we were almost run over by a careening surrey bike. We heard a child's voice yell, "Uncle Johnny, you're going too fast!" and we grabbed Michael out of it's path just in time. Frankly, I don't know how they got it moving that fast--the families I see are usually struggling along since Mom and Dad are the only ones pedaling because the kids are tired! This one was just a blur!
Maybe, it's a phantom surrey bike.....(Queue up the music "Dead Man's Curve)...Late one night there's a freak accident involving a surrey bike. Uncle Johnny liked his surrey bikes like he liked his women--fast and loose! He was young and foolish and thought he would live forever. He didn't see the golf cart coming from the other direction until it was too late. Suspiciously, the brakes fail and they have no choice but to steer off the path, through the Pick-Your-Own-Pearl-Out-of-an-Oyster shop, and into the muddy water below. Now the poor family (and Uncle Johnny) are doomed to circle the Boardwalk streaking past pedestrians in a haze of twisted metal and squealing brakes. Their mournful cry drifting back over the water, "Uncle Johnny! Uncle Johnnnnnnnnnnny!"...or not.
Anyway, we made it back to the room safely, stopping by the lounge for cokes and desserts and were in bed by 11:00.
SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2002
"And then, the war came."
Plan: Michael's choice
I woke up at 7:00, showered, and began the depressing chore of packing. Soon, everyone was up and around and we went down to the lounge for breakfast at 9:00. Back in the room, Michael watched cartoons and Lemuel slept while Lisa and I finished packing. Luckily, I had packed two empty duffel bags so we were able to fit in all of our souvenirs.
We decided to go to Epcot and spend our last hours in the World Showcase so we left the room at 10:45. When we got to the exit door by the quiet pool, we noticed that it had begun to rain fairly heavily. It was fitting that, since we arrived in the rain last Saturday, it should rain as we depart. We decided to walk back to the lobby and wait until the rain stopped. While we were waiting, I looked around in the gift shop and called the airport to check on our flight. The rain finally let up and we walked to Epcot at 11:30.
We turned left from the International Gateway and crossed the bridge to France. None of us had ever seen Impressions de France so, since the next showing began in 5 minutes, we went inside to watch. The film was beautiful. At one point they show a charming French village in the countryside. In the village is a church where a young couple is getting married. After the vows are said, the bride and groom and their family and friends spill out onto the quaint streets of the village. There are tables loaded with food and flowers and all the villagers join in the celebration.
During this scene, Michael leaned over to me and said, "They were all so happy. And then...the war came. That's how it always happens." Well I just about fell out of my seat! Since when did the 8 year-old become a harbinger of doom?! I later asked Michael what made him say that and he just shrugged. "That's what happens in the movies," he said.
After the film we looked around in the gift shops for a while before Michael declared that he was hungry for lunch. He enjoyed the Lotus Blossom so much yesterday that he wanted to eat there again today. Lemuel still wanted to shop around some in Italy so I said I would take Michael on ahead to the Lotus Blossom and they could catch up with us when they were finished.
As we passed through Japan Michael tried to distract me with a Kaki Gori, but I thought it best that he eat some real food first. As we walked through Germany we saw Snow White again today. She was very pretty and there was quite a line of men waiting to have their picture made with her!
Back in China, Michael got his usual Lotus Blossom combination and a small coke ($7.94). Lisa and Lemuel quickly joined us and we rested while Michael ate. The tables at the Lotus Blossom are under a roof with walls on three sides and short wall (about 3 feet tall) along the front. There is no air conditioning since the fourth wall is partially open and, while the roof provides shade, the layout does not allow any breeze whatsoever to circulate, so it was hot. Our table was towards the back which was even more stifling.
When Michael was finished eating, we grown ups decided that we wanted our final lunch to be at Le Cellier. We finished our clockwise journey around the World Showcase (as we passed Mexico, Michael wanted to ride El Rio del Tiempo *again*!) and headed to Canada.
Le Cellier was cool and dark and uncrowded. Three very big plusses to us. Michael was very good to sit quietly with us while we ate (luckily, I had put his game boy in my purse so that kept him amused). Lisa and Lemuel split a bowl of the cheddar cheese soup, Lisa had the Toronto chicken sandwich and a diet coke, Lemuel tried the grilled steak burger and a root beer, I had the sirloin steak sandwich and a diet coke, and Michael just had a glass of milk ($43.74). The food was very good and the portions were huge. Next time I would split an entree with someone else, especially since the breadsticks are so delicious. We liked the pretzel breadsticks the best and asked for seconds of them.
After our late lunch we finished our walk through the United Kingdom and out the International Gateway. We walked back to the Beach Club where we picked up our luggage from bell services and our car from valet. The valet CM managed to fit all eight of our bags into the trunk of our car on the first try! We were amazed--remember that Lemuel could only get five of them to fit when we first arrived!
We drove off Disney property and said our last good-bye's. On the way to the airport Lemuel slept and Michael played his game boy. We stopped along the way to fill the car up with gas ($10.35). At the airport, we checked our luggage curbside and then returned our rental car. (What a great way to do things. Usually we return our car and then have to struggle through the parking garage and into the airport with all of our bags!) We were on our way home.
Hot. Miserably Hot. It had been a long time since I had been to Florida during the summer and I had forgotten just how humid it can be. Even Michael said that we should never come back at this time of year again! We're used to the heat as the temperature routinely goes over the 100 degree mark in the summer in our part of Texas, however, we don't have the humidity that they have in Florida.
Unfortunately, with Lisa's schedule, summer was the only option for us for this particular trip. For those of you who also must come during the summer, my best advice is to be prepared with a strategy to minimize your activity during the heat of the day. Arriving at the parks at opening, taking a break to swim and rest during the afternoon, and going back to a park in the evening seemed to work best for us. Usually by 2:00 or 3:00 we were just whipped--hot and tired and ready for a break. At the very least, if you come during the summer, I would try to arrange for lunch at a relaxing, sit-down restaurant to recuperate from the heat in the air conditioning.
Also, be sure to drink lots of water. On the bright side, you rarely have to stop for restroom breaks because you sweat all the moisture out of your body!
Most days we had the typical afternoon showers. These really didn't hinder our touring since you can always go to an indoor attraction or take a break at a restaurant until the rain lets up. The only real disruption we had because of rain was our attempt to see Fantasmic! and the show still ran that night despite the rain. Like one of the security guards doing bag searches at the MK said, "It never rains in the Magic Kingdom. We're just applying a coat of liquid pixie dust!"
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowds this time of year. Certainly there were more people than when we come in November or even May, but it wasn't the gridlock that I expected. You didn't feel overly crowded while walking along in the parks. The wait times for attractions could mostly be avoided by using Fast Passes and being flexible. For example, at the MK, Lisa and I wanted to ride Winnie the Pooh but there was a line. We rode It's a Small World instead with no wait and by the time we finished with IASW, the line for Pooh had gone down considerably.
We had priority seatings for most of the sit-down restaurants we wanted to eat at, but we were also able to be seated without priority seatings a few times.
I think we've found the perfect combination of resorts for a stay at WDW. It's going to be hard in the future to stay anywhere else besides the Polynesian and the Beach Club. We have been quickly spoiled to the convenience of the monorail to the MK from the Polynesian and the short walk into Epcot from the Beach Club. Luckily, these resorts aren't cheap so, unless a rich distant relative dies and leaves me all of their money, I might be forced to accept more modest accommodations in the future! (Which is okay by me as I have enjoyed every Disney resort that I have stayed at and hope to be able to stay at them all someday.) I asked Lisa and Lemuel which resort they preferred between the two and neither one of them could decide. As I've said previously, I think the Polynesian gets extra points for friendliness but, since Epcot is my favorite park, the Beach Club gets extra points for closeness.
The only thing I would do differently in the future is to book a standard view concierge room at the Beach Club instead of a water view. The water view costs more and we are rarely even out on our balcony so I don't really think it is worth it to us. Now if I was staying on the concierge level at the Polynesian I think we would use the lagoon view since it gives you a view of Cinderella's castle and, therefore, the MK fireworks, but just being able to look out on the Boardwalk or Stormalong Bay is not that big of a thrill for the price you pay (in my opinion).
I think if the weather hadn't been a factor, this would have been more of a commando trip since Lisa and Lemuel hadn't been to WDW in a while and wanted to do and see everything (plus I wanted to show-off all of the neat things we had done on previous trips). As it was, we were usually more than ready to take a break by mid-day. Michael is always good to "go with the flow" as long as he gets to splash around in some water at some point during the day.
There is still so much that we haven't done at WDW I wonder if we'll ever get to it all. It's easy to pick out a few new things to do each trip, but the hard part is giving up an old favorite to make time for the new activity!
Check, double-check, and re-check park hours! I had gotten the current hours from Disney's website shortly before we left and I was still wrong on the opening times for AK and Disney Quest. It's frustrating show up at a park only to find out that you have time to kill before it opens.
Get to the water parks early, especially during the summer. The first couple of hours at Typhoon Lagoon were very pleasant and uncrowded. As it got closer to noon the lines got perceptibly longer and the wave pool got more crowded. The line of people waiting to get lockers was huge. We kept our clothes, sun block, etc. in a bag at our table and didn't feel wary about leaving it unattended at all. I had purchased a small, water-proof box (with a cord attached so you could wear it around your neck) before we left on vacation (the brand name was OtterBox). It was just large enough to hold our admission tickets, the car key and some cash and it worked great.
Also, bring a disposable, waterproof camera if you want to get pictures at the pools or water parks. These things were great and you don't have to worry about getting your expensive camera wet. We even took the camera in the wave pool with us at Typhoon Lagoon to get some close-up shots of the waves.
Finally, despite the wretched heat, we had a great time overall. Our new experiences included: Typhoon Lagoon, Disney Quest, Primeval Whirl, Impressions de France, Wonders of China, Le Cellier, Share a Dream Come True Parade, Hoop Dee Doo Revue, and Kaki Gori's--all of which were a big success. Things we wanted to do (not necessarily for the first time) but didn't find the time for this trip included: Jammin' Jungle Parade, Stars and Motorcars Parade, Fantasmic!, more of Future World at Epcot, Pangani and Maharajah trails at AK, shopping at Downtown Disney, renting water mice, Test Track...the list goes on and on. Oh well, I guess that's what future trips are for.