Matt Tiegs -- November 2004 -- Walt Disney World (POFQ)
Day 1 - November 6 - Arrival
OK, a bit about our planning. My wife Lori and I decided kind of spontaneously to take a trip to WDW based on the winter price deal on resort rooms. We initially booked for September 4-12, but Hurricane Frances made us change our plans! Luckily we were able to cancel all arrangements, including flights, without penalty. So, that was our first disappointment. We decided to re-book for November. I arranged our rooms through wdwvacations.com. Now, for the room deal, only a king room was left at Port Orleans. Well, though it was more than we wanted to pay, we snapped it up. Nothing else was left at the moderate resorts at the deal price. Now the good part! A while later, Nikki at WDW Vacations informed us she had got us a standard room at the deal price! Nice to know she was looking out for us even after our initial reservations were made. (Thanks Nikki!!) Flight arrangements were made through expedia.ca. No problems with them once again. We fly out of Buffalo rather than Toronto because it's so much cheaper!
OK, on with the trip. This trip is just me and my wife, Lori. First time we've been to WDW just the two of us! My ninth trip, her sixth. Our last trip was November 2003 at Port Orleans - Riverside with my parents. We flew out of Bufflalo. 6:45am flight! Very early, but nice to arrive early as well. Picked up by Mears shuttle. Saw a bunch of smaller vans and was hopefull, but we got the bus! Pretty crowded. Luckily though, POFQ was the first stop! :) Room was ready upon arrival. 5307. Third floor overlooking the pool area. Well, between the pool and hot tub area. Very convenient to the pool, food court area, and bus stop. Spent some time getting settled. Then we went down to get a bite to eat and get our refillable mugs. Then had a quick swim. Water was pretty chilly for me though!
After a bit or a rest we headed for Downtown Disney. Spent a few hours wandering the shops in the Marketplace. Just browsing for now! Then we headed into Pleasure Island. Hit the Adventurers Club. Saw a show in the Mask Room, and then one of the main shows in the Library. Interacted a bit with one of the characters while we waited. The Adventurers Club is really the only part of Pleasure Island to interest me. We're not club type people anymore! Maybe we're just getting older!! Anyways, after the show we headed home. Took a short walk around the resort before Lori fell and hurt her elbow! Tripped while watching the horse and carriage go by. She was ok, so it was pretty funny! Headed off to bed. It had been a long day!
Day 2 - November 7 - Typhoon Lagoon
Nice weather to wake up to! Not super hot, but very comfortable. Headed off to Typhoon Lagoon. Had a fun day there. Spent a bit of time in the wave pool, and hit all the raft rides. Missed the body slides this time. Just a very relaxing day! Fun time in the lazy river! I think Lori got hit by all the cold water waterfalls, jets and sprays. Very funny! Had a trukey leg for lunch. As good as always! Left around 5pm, just as the park was getting ready to close.
On to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue for dinner! Took a bus to the Magic Kingdom to take the water launch to Fort Wilderness. Always neat to go over the water bridge and see the traffic going unfer you. Got to Fort Wilderness in prenty of time. Walked around the shop and then sat in the rocking chairs out front of Crockett's Tavern while we waited. We'd never been to the Revue before but had heard great things! Had the 9:30pm seating so it seemed pretty late for us, but it was still surprisingly crowded. Some tables on the balcony were filled, but not all. We were almost center stage and one row back. Couldn't get much better. Salad was waiting on the table and it was excellent! Maybe we were just hungry. Meal was all you could eat fried chicken, ribs, beans, and corn, with strawberry shortcake for dessert. All was very good. The show was very entertaining and interactive. I think I actually enjoyed it more than the Luau at the Polynesian. We even got involved in one of the songs about where the guests were from. Headed back to the resort and bed. Magic Kingdom tomorrow!
Day 3 - November 8 - Magic Kingdom
Woke up and went down to get coffee and beignets. We could make coffee in the room, but I prefer the walk in the morning to get it from the food court. Then it's off to the Magic Kingdom! Bus seemed busy and the park was very busy! Walked down Main Street and veered right towards Liberty Square. Hit the Haunted Mansion first. Thought the Grim Grinning Ghosts music seemed muted somehow, but it was a good way to start! Then, back into Frontierland. Big Thunder Mountain followed by Splash mountain before heading off to Tom Sawyers Island. Wandered there a bit, fed the birds and headed back. Just in time to walk into Country Bear Jamboree! Missed this last trip, so it was good to see again. Shopped back towards Liberty Square and arrived just in time to jump on the Liberty Belle for a relaxing journey around Tom Sawyers Island.
OK, now we head into the madness of Fantasyland. Couldn't believe how busy it was!! 45 minutes for Peter Pan! Only 15 for Philharmagic, so we did that. Then into Pinocchio's Village Haus for lunch. Gotta love that topping bar!! Found the stairs and headed up to the balcony. Room for 2 outside. Very nice and quiet compared to inside. Plus you have a nice view of Fantasyland while you eat!
After lunch we head back towards Adventureland. First stop, to check out the wait for the Jungle Cruise. Only 15 minutes! We hop into line. What a crappy skipper we had. Very monotone and didn't say much. Long periods of silence. Then, on to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I've always liked this one! Wish I could live in the trees! Off to the Tiki Room. Still prefer the old version, but it seemed better this time than in the past. Maybe it's growing on me. Next, Pirates! As good as always. A bit of shopping and we meander through the hub towards Tomorrowland. Visit the Rose Garden along the way. Take a bunch of photos of the castle. Enter Tomorrowland by the Starlight Cafe. Too bad Sonny Exlipse is still on holidays!
First stop in Tomorrowland, the Indy Speedway. Lori drives. Or she tries to anyways. Much bouncing off the guide rail, but it's fun! Then we wander over to see if Stitch is open. It is! And not too busy either. We go in and get in to the next show. Very much like Alien Encounter. The Stich animatronics are great! Entertaining, but it doesn't blow me away. Kind of a let down? We'll have to wait and see. Off to Space Mountain. Fairly long wait. Just as I go to get Fastpass a woman hands me two that they're not able to use! Thanks whoever you were! And the return time is now. So we luck out and go right in. It's as good as always. Then, on to the Carrousel of Progress, which we love! Hope it retuns quickly after its rehab. Dusk is arriving as we board the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Another of our favorites!
Off to Main Street. Cool evening so we grab a coffee and hot cocoa and wander towards the train station. We're too late to get railing spots, but we stay up there for Spectromagic. Not a very good view of it! Back up main street to Casey's for a hot dog as we wait for Wishes. We watch from the middle of Main Street near Casey's. Very impressive. I'm surprised how many people stay for half of the show and then leave. Watched a whole bunch of parents racing towards the exits mid show with their kids in tow. All the kids were trying to keep up while walking sideways and looking back towards the fireworks. Is it really that important to leave before the crowds? Crazy. Anyways, after the show we shuffle out with the crowds and head for home!
Day 4 - November 9 - EPCOT
Another first for us. We took the bus to the Magic Kingdom just so that we could take the monorail to EPCOT. From the Magic Kingdom to the Ticket & Transportation Center we rode in the cab of the monorail! Very fun experience. Then we went on to EPCOT in a regular monorail car. I always love the monorail entrance to EPCOT when you swing around Spaceship Earth and past the Future World attractions.
First stop, the Living Seas. It's still too bad that the Sea Cabs are gone. Anyways, got to see some of the new Nemo overlays. They had two of the areas on the main floor closed for rehab, I'm guessing they're adding more Nemo stuff. Saw some divers for the first time, and also saw a diver using the diving chamber.
Next, on to the Land. Took a bunch of pictures 'cause I love the inside of this attraction and know it'll be much different when they open Soarin'. 25 minute wait for Living With The Land. Always a neat tour.
Journey Into Your Imagination next. We walked on. Very quiet area. As dissappointing as always. Bring back the Dreamfinder! Then, Honey I Shrunk The Audience and some time watching the jumping fountains and the waterfall that flows up. We decide to leave the rest of Future World for another time and head into the World Showcase. We've always started in Mexico in the past and decide to be different and head to Canada.
Let the rain begin! We wander the stores of Canada, but skip the film. Grab some Cheddar Cheese soup. Excellent! As Canadians though, I don't remember this as being a staple food growing up! For some reason Lori has no desire to see the films this time around! Then on to Great Britain. It's fairly quiet outside from the rain, but we have our raingear. We wander the streets and go through the maze. Then into the stores with all the people.
On to France. Grabbed a Crepe au Fromage et Fambon and sat out of the rain for a bit. Then we wandered around the stores, skipped the movie and pushed on to Morocco, one of my favorites! Got some Hummus with Pita as we wandered the shops. Love the architecture. Bought a neat book on Moroccan culinary habits, with recipes and pictures of the pavillion! Found a hidden mickey on the Souk-Al-Magrem Gift of Morocco shop.
Next is Japan, and now it's pouring rain! That's ok though, 'cause you can spend a lot of time wandering around inside Japan. What a great store. Lori loves all the Hello Kitty type stuff. We normally get it for our nieces, but I know she likes it for herself just as much. We wander up to the Yakitori House for a bite to eat. Teryaki Chicken and the Tokyo Sushi Roll. Very nice. Never eaten there before. Still raining but not as hard when we move on.
Italy is pretty small and quick for us. In and out of the shops and on to Germany. At the Ocktoberfest stand we grab a goulash with spatzle. Not bad. Love the architecture hear! I'm from Kitchener, Ontario, home of the largest Ocktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany, so this feels like home. Nice shops.
We move on past the African and Australian stuff but are stopped when a drawbridge opens in front of us. Never even knew it was there! We're there for about 5 minutes as we watch the Illuminations barges go by us and head towards their places. We're seeing a lot of new stuff this trip!
On to China, where we wander around the ponds and shops. Skip the movie and move on.
Norway is another one with great architecture. Neat stave church, sod roof, etc... Go on Maelstrom and stay for the movie there. Watched some kids play on the ship.
Mexico is another favorite. I seem to have a lot of favorites! Gotta love it both inside and outside! And the El Rio Del Tiempo ride is one of the greatest! Cheesy and fun, and never a wait!
Dusk is rolling in as we head back to Future World. Test Track is still quite a wait, so it's on to the Univers of Energy with Ellen, the we finally get to Spaceship Earth and walk right on. Great ride! We then find our Leaving A Legacy picture that we got last November. Very neat to see! Back to Test Track and the wait is 20 minutes, but we have time before Illuminations, and get in line. Last time our picture on Test Track was hilarious (well, my wife cracks up every time she remembers my expression) but we didn't buy it. This time it's not nearly as funny.
We head back to find a spot for Illuminations and end up just past China. Not a bad spot. We watch the show and head back to the resort, very tired.
Oh, at some point during the day we had Corned Beef & Cabbage from the Ireland booth and the vegetable curry and rice with a Taj Mahal Lager at the India booth, but I forgot to add those in!
Day 5 - November 10 - Magic Kingdom
Wow, day 5 already! The week is just flying along. Well, another first for us today. We're off to Chef Mickey's for a character breakfast! So, a bus to the Magic Kingdom, followed by a quick walk to the Contemporary. We're quite early, so we have time to wander around. Checked out the lobby, the pool area, and walked out by the Garden wings. I stayed there in 1977 and have seen film of me being "interviewed" by my dad about our day while sitting in the grass near the water. Found a spot that could be similar! Took a bunch of pictures. Off to Chef Mickey's! We're seated in the raised back section overlooking the water. Very nice. Great buffet! We're visited first by Mickey, then Minnie, Chip, Dale & Pluto. Pictures all around. Goofy is waiting in the lobby area. I get my picture taken and ask Lori if she wants hers. She says no and Goofy looked quite hurt. She gets her picture taken with Goofy!
So, we monorail over to the Polynesian to wander about. I've stayed there twice when I was much younger (and not paying) and it has to be my favorite resort. I buy a coffee mug and we jump on the boat back to the Magic Kingdom.
Not so rushed today, we can take our time. Doesn't seem as crowded as well. I buy myself some Mickey ears with my name on them, and we board the train for a leisurely trip around WDW. Nice relaxing way to let our breakfast settle! On to Fantasyland, which isn't nearly as crazy today. Snow White's about a 10 minute wait. Love the dark rides! We do Peter Pan and then the Tea Cups. Lori doesn't care to spin too much, but we have a good whirl!
We wander into Tomorrowland and go on Buzz. It's like 26000 to 5000 in my favour, but the picture is a wash so I have no proof! On to the Astro Orbiter followed by the TTA again. Then we head back to Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise! We get a much better guide this time. Back to Fantasyland we decide to wait for Dumbo. Only 25 minutes. I want to see the 20,000 Leagues work being done. Very sad to see it all disappearing. Over to the Hall of Presidents, and another trip to the Haunted Mansion before we look for a bite to eat. We're hoping for salads tonight. Starlight Cafe has closed their salad/soup line for the night. :( OK, we move on towards main street. Check out the Plaza Pavilion, which is also closed!! I know the park closes a little earlier tonight, but we still have to eat! Settle for a Hot Dog from Casey's and grab some Popcorn right before wishes. No Spectromagic tonight. Enjoy some quiet time down the Main Street side street listening to the music lessons above us.
We take the boat over to the Wilderness Lodge to check it out. Grabbed a bite to eat at the Roaring Fork and relaxed while we waited for the Electrical Water Pageant. I know it had been damaged by the hurricane's, but what a disappointment! Only four floats! Well, one is the long sea serpeant, which technically is like four floats. Lasts less than 5 minutes and we're on our way back to Port Orleans. I hope the Water Pageant comes back to its full glory soon. Long bus ride back tonight.
Day 6 - November 11 - EPCOT
On to our tour! We decided this year to go for the Treasures of the World Showcase tour. It was really a toss up between this one, the Future World tour or the Gardens of EPCOT Tour. I had done the Steam Train tour and the Keys To The Kingdom tour, which were both great, but Lori had not done any of the tours. We arrived early at EPCOT and waited around while the tour groups formed. Our group was huge! 25 people. Not what we were expecting. Our guide was a Disney Photographer who had started doing these tours on the side. We started with a brief EPCOT history lesson and moved into the Showcase. We started in Mexico and moved our way around. Learned some neat stuff, and we were shown some hidden mickeys but overall I wasn't that impressed with this tour. The guide was fine, but I think the group was too large. We'll try another one next time.
So, over to Mexico for a bite to eat. Then, we walked back towards France and took the exit there towards the EPCOT resorts to wander around. The Yacht & Beach club are beautiful! Very nice. Maybe one day we'll be able to afford to stay there. Swan & Dolphin are not impressive at all. Very hotel like. No real character. Boardwalk is neat. I think it would be better when it's busier and more is going on on the boardwalk itself. Wee wandered around there for a couple of hours before heading back to EPCOT. Rode Spaceship Earth one last time and back to Port Orleans. We went over to Riverside and had nachos and onion soup for dinner in the lounge, followed by a relaxing stroll back to our room.
Day 7 - November 12 - MGM Studios
We were originally going to do MGM on Saturday, until I found out about the Super Soap Weekend! So, here we are on Friday. First thing, Lori has to go to the washroom. I think she visited every restroom in WDW this trip! Anyways, while I was waiting two of the characters, the Mayor and Rosie were having an encounter, which resulted in Rosie fainting in the street. So, a volunteer was needed. I was minding my own business, but the Mayor came over and grabbed me to revive Rosie with a kiss on the cheek! Lori comes out of the bathroom to find me in the middle of a circle of guests bending down to kiss Rosie, who promptly grabbed me and gave me a big kiss! It left a huge lipstick mark on my cheek that was very hard to remove! I always love the characters at MGM but never thought I'd be involved.
OK, we go over and get Tower of Terror fastpass, and head back to the Magic of Disney Animation. This was in rehab last year so I'm interested in seeing what's been done. Neat little presentation followed by interactive things and characters from the Incredibles. We get to go in and draw Goofy and take our drawing with us. Not really frameable, but not bad! Then I zip through One Man's Dream and take some pictures of the models. To own one of the Disney models! That'd be a dream come true. Lori has no interest in this when she can be sitting in the sun! Next we do the Backstage Tram Tour. This seems to have been really shortened. Still neat, but I loved when you went through the old streets as well. Did get to see where the new stunt show will be though.
On to Tower of Terror. This is the ride I really look forward to every trip! Too bad you miss most of the queue when you use fastpass though! This is a great ride. From there we grab Rock'n'Roller Coaster fastpass and move on. We really zig-zagged around MGM this time. Over to Star Tours, which I ride myself (Lori is in the sun!) and on to Muppetvision, which we missed last trip. We check out the San Fransisco street, which is neat, but covered in Osborne Christmas lights, and work our way back to Aerosmith. After the coaster we grab an ice cream at Hollywood Scoops and move to Millionaire. We get there and it's last call for the next show. Lori's dissappointed she can't quite finish our ice cream but we sit down as the show begins. This one's actually quite fun. Never done it before.
We check the movie ride but it's a long wait so we go over to Indy and check out the stunt show. This is as fun as always. Afterwards I go to pull the rope in the mine shaft, but it's not working. :(
Time for some shopping! We spend some time wandering around the shops. The Antiques & Curios store is always a favorite, but a major dissappointment this year. Where did everything go?? TOT has a short wait, so we ride it again as dusk is settling in. We wander some more before heading over to Fantasmic! We're very late and get standing room only. Not bad though. We head back to Port Orleans for dinner. I have the pot roast, which is excellent! A quick swim and it's off to bed. Only one more full day to go! :(
Day 8 - November 13 - Animal Kingdom
OK, our last full day. On to Animal Kingdom. We slowly wander in and take the time to see the animals near the entrance. Most people walk right by them, and we have in the past, but we're in no hurry today. We walk right in to It's Tough To Be A Bug. It's great seeing the detail on the Tree of Life up close. Next, on to Dinoland USA and Dinosaur. A very short wait so we go right in. Very rough ride on this one, but it's fun. Next, Primeval Whirl. They only have one side going, but the wait still isn't long. This is also very fun! We walk through Asia and onto the Kali River Rapids. Now, our first time on this ride we were the ones who got soaked! Last year we skipped it 'cause it was a cool day, but decide to ride it today. What happens? We get soaked!! I actually took off my shirt to wring it out after the ride. We wander through the Maharajah Jungle Trek to dry off. One of the bats is actually moving around, so that's neat to see. We were also shown a hidden mickey near the Tigers.
So, off to the Flame Tree Barbeque for lunch. Very good pork sandwich! Next we see the bird show, shich is always fun. After, I grab some popcorn and we lounge overlooking the Tree of Life for a while (in the Sun!).
We then grab fastpass for the Kilimanjaro Safari and head to Rafiki's Planet Watch to pet some animals. As hoped, we get to she the talking trashcan rolling around and interacting with the guests!
Onto the Safari. Always fun, but not many animals in view this trip. We follow the jungle trail and watch some submerged hippos for a while. A cast member is more than happy to talk to us about them. Very interesting stuff. One more ride on the Safari. The wait is short this time. Lots of animals this trip! Even the Cheetah is moving about. And the giraffes are really close.
As the park closes we head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we have priority seating for Boma. Again we chose a buffet! I don't think we meant to spend the whole trip eating at buffet or counter service restaurants, but that's the way it worked out this trip! Anyways, we were early, so we were able to spend some time wandering around, which I love to do. What a great looking resort! Giraffe's and zebras were out on the savannah. The pool area looks great. Too bad is seems so out of the way from everything except the Animal Kingdom! Dinner was great. You have to go there willing to try new things and you'll have a great meal. From cornmeal to fufu to harira soup, everything was very good. I would definitely go back and try this one again some time. So, that's the end of our last full day, and I'm starting to feel like a cold is coming on! Home to bed.
Day 9 - November 14 - Home
Well, I wake up feeling worse. Sore throat, headache, etc.. Well, it's our last hours here and we're going to enjoy it! We check out and store our luggage before heading to Downtown Disney to finally do some shopping. We wander around the marketplace picking things up here and there. Not too much this trip. Then it's over to check out the Festival of the Masters. We stop for a pretzel and a rest. Still not feeling great. Then it's on to McDonald's for some lunch. A bit more shopping and we take the boat back to the resort. Eating has helped a bit and I feel a bit better. We lounge by the pool for a while before going to meet our Mears shuttle. It's right on time. It's bye-bye Disney as we head for the airport. What a quick week! Orlando to Philly. Philly to Buffalo. Pick up the car and we're home in Hamilton at about 2am. Now we can start planning our California trip for May! (p.s. see some of our photos at www.mattlori.ca)Matt Tiegs