Amy C -- April 2004 -- Walt Disney World (AKL)
Cast of Characters
This was a huge group!! The reason for this trip was due to "Magical Gatherings", a new vacation that the Walt Disney World Resort is promoting. Mark, Kim, Rodrigo, Stella and Jhani all work for a radio station that was invited to broadcast from WDW and promote all the old, new and wonderful things that WDW has to offer. I was lucky enough to get to go along for this wonderful experience.
Ready???? Here we go!!!!
Day 1 - Saturday, April 3, 2004
Plan: Fly out, catch my connection and check into Animal Kingdom Lodge
I couldn't believe that I was actually there. I was so excited!!! We made our way through those welcoming purple gates, which thrill me every time I see them, and followed the signs that directed us to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We walked into the hotel and I was immediately in awe at the beauty of this resort. The lobby is just spectacular. There wasn't a whole lot of action in the lobby, as it was after midnight, so we just checked in and proceeded to our room. 3rd floor Savannah View Room. When we got to the room, I opened up the drapes and peeked outside. Even at that late hour, there were animals out. There were these huge cow looking things with these giant horns. I knew that this was just a taste of wonderful things to come. We unpacked and got to bed. With the 3 hours lost coming over to Florida and the 1 hour time change that would go into effect that night, we knew that we needed to get to sleep.
Day 2 - Sunday, April 4, 2004
Plan: Breakfast, tour of the 4 parks, Dinner
First up, Animal Kingdom: We got pre-boarded onto Primeval Whirl. I know that that many people don't care for it, but I happen to think that it is a lot of fun. Sure, that whole area doesn't fit into the theme of the rest of the park, but the ride is enjoyable. We meandered over to Dinosaur, which had just broken down. (Much to my thrill, since that ride scares me.....yes, I know, I am 27!!!) We left that area and headed to Asia and got pre-boarded onto Kali River Rapids. The weather, if I may just add, had been beautiful. Warm, with a slight breeze, so a water ride actually hit the spot (even though I was covered entirely by a poncho). From there, we left the park.
Next Stop...MGM: We headed to MGM via the van and headed straight to Tower of Terror (4, is it?) The last time the group all went, Stella was terrified to get on it, but she did it and she hated it. This time around, it was a test to see if we could get her to go on it again. We got to the elevators and some of us were actually buckled in, and Stella said "See ya!!!" The WHOLE elevator was chanting "Stella, Stella!!!" We all begged her to come on, and she finally decided to. She sat next to me and had her head buried in my lap the whole ride, slapping and pinching me as she yelled out "I HATE THIS!!!!!!!" Poor thing. When we got off, Stella proceeded to try and turn less green. My verdict: I LOVED the new sequence! It was so incredible!!! The ride seemed to last SO much longer than before!! From, there we went to Rock N' Roller Coaster and most everyone rode. Stella, as you may have guessed, did not ride. That ride is always a favorite of mine. I love Aerosmith and the take off is worth the wait in line alone! From there, we headed to grab some lunch at a little hamburger stand where it looks like the Farmers Market (I forgot the name). Standard theme park food, but it hit the spot since we were all so hungry. From there, we left MGM.
Next Stop...Magic Kingdom: Once at the Magic Kingdom we headed to Mickey's Philharmagic. I just LOVED it! I really did. I wish that they could have allowed the entire "Be Our Guest" to make it into the film, but then, it would have been a 2 hour show. From Fantasyland we cut through and made it to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. I like that ride, even though I stink at it. Rodrigo kicked my tush by like 40,000 points. I would make a terrible Space Ranger!!! From there, we left the Magic Kingdom.
Next Stop....drop off some folks at AKL and onto Epcot: We dropped off Kim and her daughter Beverly at the resort and the rest of us headed to Epcot to tackle what we all couldn't wait to tackle....Mission: Space. Once at Mission: Space, we all headed in and the chickens headed out....you guessed it, Stella was one of them. I was in the 'pod' with Rodrigo, Mark and Mark's son Dylan. I have to admit, that I was a tad bit nervous. I had heard so many things, some good, some bad, but all interesting. I followed their directions exactly and exited feeling a little bit funny. I did not need to use the *cough* barf bags that come standard with a ride, but I also was not up for doing it again right away. After we dizzied out of Mission: Space, it was onto another favorite of mine...Test Track. This is another one of those rides that I could go on countless times and never get sick of. When our zoom around the track came to a close, we left Epcot center and proceeded to drop everyone off where they wanted to go. We got off at the Yacht/Beach to go to Beaches n' Cream for dinner and everyone pretty much went their own separate ways for the night. At Beaches n' Cream, I had a yummy bowl of chili and a diet cherry coke. Rodrigo had a cheeseburger and fries, with a cherry coke and we both got dessert to go. Rodrigo, a chocolate malt, and myself a chocolate shake. Both were delicious!!!
We headed back to the room via bus to the Magic Kingdom and from there a bus to AKL. We went back to the room and collapsed. At that point, Rodrigo realized that he lost his cell phone. I called the front desk to see if it had been left at Boma, they told me to call back in the morning. Rodrigo had to get up early the next morning for the 1st day of broadcasting. Lights out....
Day 3 - Monday, April 5, 2004
Plan: Meet Rodrigo at MGM radio station. No plans for the afternoon. PS at Brown Derby in the evening.
Actual: Mickey called at 6:15 a.m. to remind Rodrigo that "There's a lot doin'!" and to get going. I, the lucky one, got to sleep in. I slept, and slept, and slept and then I slept some more. I don't really get to sleep in at home, so this was any extra special treat for me. I just had to make sure that I got up and allowed myself enough time to get ready and get to MGM by noon. Really, I was awake by 8:30 and just lounged in bed. At 9:00 I called the Lost & Found at the hotel and asked about the cell phone. They didn't have it, but told me that I could call Central Lost and Found and ask them. I called and waited on hold for 45 minutes. I told them the make, model, color, phone number, everything. I was put on hold while they went to look. While on hold I thought about how much stuff must be left behind in a day and the odds that they could ever find this phone. Just then, a nice lady came back on the line and informed me that they did, in fact, have the cell phone. Hoorah!! Wonderful news! She told me how to get there and I began my trek. I had to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the Monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Got off of the Monorail and walked to the Lost and Found, which is right next door to the kennel club. Very quick and very painless to retrieve the cell phone and I made my way back to the busses to get to MGM. I am extremely pleased with the level of organization and professionalism that the Central Lost and Found possesses.
I got to MGM a couple minutes after 12:00 and they were all just finishing up. The radio station there is very nice and guests in the park have an opportunity to peek in when they are outside the windows. I guess that Radio Disney has a couple of shows that broadcast from in there also. We got a ride from MGM back to AKL and headed to the room to relax. Rodrigo was pretty tired from the long day yesterday and the early wake up today. We took a nap for like 2 hours. I enjoyed it very much. We slept with the balcony door open and we could see zebras and other animals. It was so peaceful. We woke up and got ready for our 6:00 PS at the Brown Derby. We got there and waited for a couple of minutes to be seated. We both started with the house salad, then we both had the Filet Mignon with smashed potatoes. All was out of this world! For dessert we both had the crème brulee. Oh my goodness, is that stuff delicious! We gave that dinner such a fight that all of our plates had to tap out!!! We literally waddled out of there, stuffed and very happy. We went over to ToT to see how long the wait was. It had a posted wait time of 70 minutes, so we decided to wait. We needed the time to digest anyway! We got on the ride in just under 60 minutes and that ride was better than any of the others! It was so much fun! From there we went to The Great Movie Ride. Which I happen to like very much. Here are a couple things for you all to ponder....#1 Why does Sigourney Weaver not have a neck and do any of you laugh when you turn that corner and see her? #2 Why are there screens in front of the pyramid of dancing girls (where the bubbles are) and in front of the Casablanca scene? If anyone knows the answer to that, please let me know. Anywhoo, we got the gangster girl and we exited the ride, enjoying it as always.
We decided to head out from there since Rodrigo had another early morning to get ready for. We didn't wait long for the bus and were back "home" in no time. Another wonderful day!
Day 4 - Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Plan: Rodrigo works, Meet him at MGM, Epcot, Cirque du Soliel, Dinner at Flying Fish
Actual: Once again Mickey yanked Rodrigo out of bed at 6:00 and I (ahhhhh) got to go back to sleep. I woke up and got some coffee from the Mara, which if I may just add, is a very nice counter service "snack bar". I found the food to be very good. I got a cup of coffee and one of those fruit/granola things that I always read about. It was very tasty and filling. I grabbed a bus and was at MGM in no time. Rodrigo and the crew weren't quite done yet, so I just hung around in the station for a while & checked some emails. When everyone was done, we got a ride to Epcot and went to the World Showcase. Just then American Adventure was about to start, and neither of us had ever seen it. The animatronics were very impressive and it was a nice show. From there we wandered around World Showcase some more and headed to Le Cellier. We were both pretty hungry right then, so we popped in to see if they had anything available and they were booked solid. They did check for us to see if San Angel Inn had any openings, and they did, so they penciled us it. We headed over to Mexico and got seated right away. We started with tortilla soup, very yummy. I had the enchilada and quesadilla combo which was very good. Rodrigo had the chile relleno and enchilada, which he enjoyed very much. Stuffed and satisfied, we left and headed to the Mexico ride (which, for the life of me, I can't think of the name). I think that the ride is in desperate need of an update. Those film clips are older than I am. It is a nice little ride, but here is another point to ponder....does anyone other than Rodrigo and myself think that the whole "shopping" scene is a little stereotypical? That was always something that we scratched our heads at. Anyway, with that, we left Mexico.
We headed out of World Showcase and into Future World. Let me just take a minute to remind everyone that we have NEVER seen WDW so crowded as we did this week. Even Spaceship Earth had a 50 minute wait at 3:00 in the afternoon. We went into Innoventions for a few minutes and played around, then we left and headed back to the hotel to get ready for Cirque. We had a van waiting for us at 4:45 and we were off. Rodrigo, Kim, Reilly, Tim, Beverly, Hayden and myself. We got to Downtown Disney and unloaded, found our seats and very much all enjoyed the show. The sets were beautiful and the music was absolutely enchanting. I am amazed that the talent of not only the performers, but the musicians, the singers and the crew. Once the show had ended, we headed, via bus, to the Yacht/Beach club to meet Mark, Barbara, Stella and Keith at the Flying Fish. I was beginning to get a very nasty headache, so I told Rodrigo that he might be on his own at dinner. I didn't know how much fun I would be. He didn't want to leave me by myself, so we walked to the Boardwalk and caught a cab back to AKL. We really thought we needed to eat something, and maybe that would help my headache. So Rodrigo called Room Service. The food came and was actually very tasty: Caesar Salad, Chicken with spicy potatoes and Rodrigo surprised me with a Zebra Dome and himself some sort of hot apple sundae. It was all very good, and I am sure not cheap! We showered and went to sleep shortly there after. Yet another amazing day!
Day 5, April 7, 2005
Plan: Rodrigo works, Meet him at MGM, Epcot, whatever and wherever the day takes us
Yes, as you may have guessed it, Rodrigo was up with the chickens, well more like the giraffes, antelope and flamingoes since there are no chickens at the AKL. I slept in a bit and then headed to MGM. I just want to take a second to tell you that the busses have been very reliable on this trip. AKL is VERY far away from everything, but the busses seem to be very dependable. I got to MGM and went to Starring Rolls Bakery for a muffin and a cup of coffee. It was very tasty. I just sat out in the warm sun and talked to my grandma on the phone to tell her that I was having a wonderful time. It was so relaxing. I then headed over to Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I made it to #2 in the board, but I never got into the hot seat. It was fun anyway. I went over to the radio station and we all piled in a van and headed back to Epcot, so that Kim could ride Mission: Space. We all got on, myself included and I found that the 2nd time around, it wasn't nearly as bad. It was a lot more enjoyable. Kim, poor thing, came out green. She didn't handle that ride well at all. We got to do Test Track one more time and that was fun again. From there Mark, Barbara, their 3 kids, Keith, Stella, Rodrigo and I headed to Le Cellier for lunch. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS! Every bit as good as everything I have heard. There was so much food ordered between the group that it was borderline obscene! It was all very tasty. The cheddar cheese soup is too good! From there Mark and his crew left, so Stella, Keith, Rodrigo and I walked through Future World, stopping to go on Spaceship Earth. We all learned that our cell phones work even at the top of the ball, as we all got phone calls at about the same time. Don't get mad, we weren't on the phone for more than a second. We exited the ride and the park then. While waiting for a bus, Rodrigo and I decided to go see Dawn of the Dead at Downtown Disney. Ugh, that was the low point of the vacation. Horrible movie! We had grabbed some fastpasses to ToT earlier in the morning, so from Downtown Disney, we headed back to MGM and onto ToT. We were going to try and see Fantasmic but we didn't feel like waiting forever for it. So with that, we headed back to the hotel. We were kind of hungry, since we had not eaten for a while, so we stopped by the Mara. I got a Caesar salad pizza and Rodrigo got a bbq chicken pizza. Both were delicious. We watched some t.v. and then showered and got to bed. Today had been a great day...with the exception of that movie.
Day 6 - April 8, 2004
Plan: Rodrigo works, Meet him at MGM, Richard Petty Driving Experience, Animal Kingdom for private safari and dinner
Rodrigo gets up and gets to work. I stay in bed for a little while then I get up, showered and head to Animal Kingdom. I really wanted to see the Lion King show there, so I decided to. I got on a bus and walked through the turnstiles. Then, I got some coffee and a muffin at Tusker House and listened to some people making music, by banging on drums and singing. It was very nice. I saw the 9:45 Festival of the Lion King and loved every minute of it. I like the new enclosed theatre. Very nice. I walked around and then headed out. I grabbed the bus to MGM and grabbed a couple of more fastpasses for ToT. I got to the radio station, again, just as everyone was finishing up. We went to the ABC Commissary and some got food there, I left and went to the Back Lot Express and grabbed some lunch for Rodrigo and myself. We all ate at the Commissary and then hopped in a van. We dropped some people off at Epcot and then the rest of us headed to the race track for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. It wound up being Rodrigo, Keith, Mark and myself that got to ride in the car. This wasn't the experience that teaches you how to drive it. This one, you sit in the passenger seat while a professional driver takes you around the track 3 times averaging about 150 mph. We all got suited in and each had our turn and it was a blast! When we left there, we headed back to the AKL. It had started to rain a little so we just grabbed a couple of drinks and headed back to the room. We crashed there for a little while. Then we had to get up and get ready for our evening out.
I was very much looking forward to this. We all headed to Animal Kingdom (by this time the park was closed to guests) and into the Flights of Wonder stadium. There we were greeted by our guide and were each given a special pin to mark the occasion. Then we traveled to our awaiting jeep and were given a private evening safari. It was so amazing. All the animals were out and in full view. The weather was beautiful and it was a wonderful experience. When we exited our jeeps, dinner was awaiting us at the Tusker House. We had 2 private tables, for our big party, in the back of the restaurant. We were served chicken, beef, lamb, fish, rice, potatoes, dessert, fruit, etc. A couple of the characters had come in and 2 AK employees brought in some critters. A tarantula and a tiny owl. The owl was so cute. We left there with a wonderful group photo that was given to each of us and the memory of a lovely evening. We all headed back to the hotel. I wanted to see Wishes, the new firework show at the Magic Kingdom, but 1st we needed to change into more comfortable clothes. We got to the MK just as the show was starting. It was very good, even though I think Believe at Disneyland happens to be a bit better. From there we went onto the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain. It was a lot of fun. We got some ice cream and then headed out. I always enjoy the little time we spend at the Magic Kingdom when we come to WDW, because we don't usually spend any time there. From there, we headed back to the room absolutely exhausted. 1 full day left. sniff, sniff.
Day 7 - April 9, 2004
Plan: Rodrigo works, Islands of Adventure/Universal, MGM
The show was actually broadcasting from the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so Rodrigo was nearby. I fell back asleep for a little while and Rodrigo came in and said that they had a catered breakfast there for everybody. I got showered, dressed and headed over there. I ate a muffin and some coffee and watched them broadcast. It was a good last show. After the show ended and they got packed up, we headed to the lobby and waited for Mark, Ryan and Michelle. We all got a taxi, along with Jhani and Kenny. We got to Universal and proceeded to start at IoA. I won't touch too much on these parks, but we all had a wonderful time there. We just spent a few hours between the 2 parks and then we headed back to WDW. Rodrigo and I rested for just a few minutes before heading to our 2nd, that's right, 2nd Brown Derby PS. I told you we love it there!!! We got there in time for dinner. I had the chefs make me a tiny cobb salad and I had the filet mignon and a chocolate flourless cake for dessert. All was DELICIOUS! Rodrigo had the garden salad, the pork tenderloin and the crème brulee for dessert. It was a wonderful last meal for this trip and we enjoyed our time there very much. From there we went over and rode ToT using the fastpasses from the day before. (shh, don't tell) We loved our last ride through the haunted hotel. The 10:00 Fantasmic was just filling up, so we decided to see it. I am glad that we did. Even though I think Disneyland's version is far superior, we like this one anyway. Point to ponder....what is the point of having that makeshift Steamboat Willy boat? It looks like a Kindergartener made it using construction paper. I think it would be much more eye appealing to just have the characters come out on the rocks or something. Just my opinion. From there we headed out of the park for the last time and to the bus stop. We got back to the room too pooped to pack. I just decided we would pack in the morning. Lights out...I don't want to go home.
Day 8 - April 10, 2004
Plan: Pack, Breakfast at Kona Café, Airport, Home
We woke up and packed, showered and dressed. We took the bus to the MK and the monorail to the Polynesian. We had another delicious meal there. Their coffee is soooo yummy. We left stuffed and hurried. My flight was leaving 4 hours before Rodrigo's was, so I really needed to get going. We got a monorail back to the MK and was on a bus back to the AKL when I realized that I left my camera at the Kona Café. I called, and they had it and would hold on to it. Rodrigo would have to go back for it after I left. We got back to the hotel, got my bags and grabbed a cab. The cab driver was a pain in the neck, but that is a whole other story. Rodrigo and I said our goodbyes and I told him I would see him in a little while. My flight left on time and I caught my connection on time. I picked up my car at a parking lot near LAX and headed back to the airport to pick up Rodrigo, whose flight was also on time. We got his bags and it was off to home we go.
This was an absolutely wonderful trip for me. It was an unexpected opportunity and I am thrilled that I was able to go. I know Rodrigo had to work and I was just fine being left on my own. His co-workers are all amazing people and I loved the chance to hang out with them once again. Rodrigo and I will be back in July for 4 nights on the Disney Wonder, followed by 7 days at the Boardwalk with my sister Lisa and her new husband. I know that we will have a great time there and Rodrigo won't have to get up early for work!!!
The weather this time of year was beautiful. It only rained once for about an hour, then the sun came out. It warmed up during the middle of our stay and it was never unpleasant.
The crowds were crazy! I have never seen so many people. I had heard that on Monday they had to close the Magic Kingdom a couple of times during the day because it was filled to capacity.
We can't wait for July and the cruise!!!!! We totally need that kind of pure relaxation!
Hope I didn't bore any of you with this. Please feel free to email me with any comments or questions.