Year of Disney Trip 1 of 3
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Six days into the trip – day 4 at Disney. It is time to write the “what have we missed” list. So before and after breakfast, we all wrote our what we missed list. I had hoped that it would lead to a direction for our next couple of days, but no luck, We had a couple of rides here and a couple there. We decided that we would just try to tick a few off each day.
Today our sit down meal was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. It was a fun morning. The food is average, but the access to characters make our DD’s day. We had a little fun this year when taking photos. We had the DS stand back to back with Goofy and stand nose to nose with Donald. We had the DD “pet” Pluto’s ear. We also bought the picture – I know many of you are screaming “WHY!” at your computers, but we have purchased the photos each and every time we have eaten at Chef Mickey’s and it is great fun to see the difference in the kids.
After Chef Mickey’s we went back to the Studios which is surprising as it is not our favorite park. But, we needed to cross a few things off the list like Toy Story Mania. When we arrived at the park, the fast pass distribution time was 1:40 and since we did not plan to be at the park past noon, we took the 40 minute standby line. The queue to this line offers great photo opportunities so the wait was not bad. The ride is a blast! We had a great time playing the games. Our DS won – little wonder since he spends hours on end playing video games.
The DD and I took off to get photos with Buzz and Woody while the DS and DH went to the Backlot Tour. They told me that the tour has changed since our last visit and that it was hard to hear anything due to the sound from Lights, Motors, Action. The photo stop for Buzz and Woody is a neat area with many photo ops prior to getting to the Toy Story stars. I took photos of our DD posing as one of the aliens in the claw machine, strapped to a rocket, and as a toy in a Woody’s Roundup doll box. Occasionally, outside of the photo stop for Buzz and Woody are the green army men. When we went into the Woody/Buzz photo stop, there were several outside. When we left the photo stop, they had all disappeared. However, after picking up the boys, we walked by Toy Story Mania and there they were. The green army men do more than stand for photos. They joke around with the guests. Kait and an army man peered out from behind a tree to have their photo taken. It is certainly is one of my favorites.
We headed over to the Great Movie ride and walked right on. I remember when the park first opened; the line would be 60 minutes long. My DS(15) and DD(9) did not understand most of the movie references. The kids decided the ride needed a refurb to bring it up to date. I like the old movie references – but then again – I know these movies. So, with our visit to the Studios coming to a close we went in search of what Lou Mongello of WDW Radio fame called the best snack in a recent podcast – carrot cake cookie. I am trying to determine the right word(s) for this snack. I’ll start with scrumptious and add delicious and yummy, and moist, and amazing, and perfect. Lou was right – it is the BEST snack in the World!
This visit to the Studios was better than our first visit, but we wanted to move on to EPCOT. We left our car parked at the Studios and took a leisurely boat ride over to EPCOT. (It does take a while to go from one park to the other.) Next time, we would retrieve our car and drive to EPCOT. When we arrived at EPCOT, our DS went to the Land to see if there were any available tours of the pavilion. The DH, DD, and I engaged in a Kim Possible adventure. What a cool thing to add to EPCOT! There were a ton of families running around with the Kimmunicators. We had about 30 minutes from the time we checked in to the time we were to begin our mission so we stopped in England for a pint of ale. Yummy!
Our first Kim Possible adventure was in China and with the exception of one clue it worked fine. The “agents” carry a Verizon phone that plays videos and give the clues to follow. The DD and I had so much fun that we did a second adventure in Mexico. The DH left us to make the tour at the Land. The DH and DS said the tour of the land was great. If you have not had a chance to take this tour ($16 a person), do so. It is so informative and amazing. My DH and DS now want to put in a greenhouse and do some hydroponic planting!
After our KP adventure, the DD and I shared fish and chips from England as we rode the boat back to the Studios. As soon as we got onto the tram, the heavens opened up and it poured! Our feet were soaked – we had already put on our ponchos. After getting back to the room and drying off, the DH and I headed over to the Magic Kingdom to catch the Hall of Presidents prior to the fireworks. The Hall of Presidents is a moving tribute to the Executive Office. We had a pair of really rude young men behind us who would not stop talking. It always makes me crazy when people are so rude!
We returned to Bay Lake Tower in time to view the fireworks from the 16th floor of the resort. It was a magical moment. The evening was wrapped up with a nightcap at the Top of the World Lounge. Another great Disney day.
We have been to Disney during late June/early July before so I knew how to handle the heat and the rain. We pack a washcloth and a plastic bag in one of our fanny packs. When it gets really hot, we soak the washcloth and dab our face and neck. As for the rain, we have learned to each take two pair of shoes so that if one pair gets wet, the other pair should be dry. I had planned on purchasing everyone a pair of crocs prior to leaving, but then ran out of time before we departed. Still, I thought I had the wet feet angle covered with two pair of shoes – WRONG!
This morning we took off to Animal Kingdom to work through our must do list which included seeing the animals, riding Everest and riding Kali River Rapids (thus begins the soaking!). My DH wanted to ride Dinosaur; no one else wanted to ride with him. So, when we arrived at the park, he took off to Dinosaur, I went to Asia to secure Everest fast passes, and the kids walked over to Dinoland to ride Primeval Whirl. When I finally got to Dinoland, the kids and I rode Primeval Whirl and connected with the DH. Since we wanted to see the animals, we walked slowly to Africa exploring many of the paths on Discovery Island. It was really relaxing; it ranks up there as one of the more enjoyable moments on our trip. We slowed down and just enjoyed walking together and talking about the animals. Kait got a photo and autograph from Flik. When we made it to Africa, we took the train to the Conservation Station. We searched for and found over 15 hidden Mickeys, the DD petted a white pine Florida snake, we saw Jiminy Cricket and Rafiki, and toured the facilities. Getting back from Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we decided to grab lunch.
The kids and I headed over to Flame Tree Barbeque and DH headed to Yak and Yeti. I have loved Flame Tree barbeque every time I have eaten there – I love the pulled pork sandwich. It has always been moist and very tasty, until this time. This time the food we received – pulled pork sandwich and a ½ slab of ribs was dry and bland. Very disappointing. DH ordered the honey chicken from Yak and Yeti. There is a little sign by the register that tells DDP members what constitutes a counter service meal. The cashier told DH that many people were confused if the rice that comes with the entree was the “side” or not (it is). DH said the honey chicken was above average, but closer to the average side. The chicken was essentially chicken nuggets dipped in a honey sauce and not that much sauce at that.
After lunch we headed to Everest to use our fast passes. And then we knowing it was our last ride, we headed over to Kali River Rapids expecting to get a bit wet. At the end of the ride, one would have sworn that the DD and I had jumped into a pool fully dressed. The remainder of our party and the other family we rode with were wet but not dripping. True story – a man across the raft from me had his camcorder out the entire ride and was almost completely dry! Squishing all the way to the car, I was thankful that we were headed back to the room to change and that we all had dry shoes waiting for us. But alas, as we departed our room to head to EPCOT, the rain began.
Changed and rested, we headed over to Canada in EPCOT to eat dinner at Le Cellier. It was our first time eating at the restaurant. I was stunned when I was able to get reservations with less than 6 months lead time. The meal begins with a bread basket that contains breadsticks – pretzel, sourdough, and multigrain. The pretzel bread here is much softer than the pretzel rolls in Germany. Even though we were on the dining plan, we ordered the trio of appetizers – cheese soup, tomato stack, and lump crab. The tomato stack was a tomato salad of cucumber, tomato, and onion in a dressing. The lump crab was a lump crab tourine. All three appetizers were delicious. The DH and DS ordered off a special DDP menu that allowed them to select an appetizer, entree, and a dessert. The basic table service DDP no longer comes with an appetizer, but Le Cellier has a special menu that has limited selections – there most popular selections that allow the diner to experience an app, entree, and dessert. Both the DH and the DS chose this option. Both selected salt encrusted prime rib with roasted potatoes as their appetizer. The DH chose a bowl of cheese soup (more cheese soup!) and the DS chose a sausage dish which he declared was spicy. I ordered the New York Strip Steak and the DD had a hot dog. The meal was delicious, the wait staff was very attentive, and the experience was fantastic! If you have the chance, book Le Cellier.
Our DS was not interested in touring EPCOT that evening and he headed back to the room. The DH, DD and I explored the world and watched Illuminations in the rain. By the end of Illuminations, it was pouring and once again our feet were soaked. We stopped by MouseGear to buy crocs and found that they did not have the size I needed and the DH passed on a pair, so we only bought the DD crocs. Feeling less squishing, the DD decided to stay with her dad at EPCOT for extra magic hours in order to ride Soarin’, Imagination, and Spaceship Earth. (Those two party animals did not make it back to the room until after 11:30 – a problem as we were supposed to be at Animal Kingdom for breakfast at 8:00 the next morning.) I headed back to the resort and stopped by the gift shop to get crocs for me and the DS (I hate wet feet!).
Realizing that the DD would be exhausted the next morning, I fired up the laptop and cancelled our breakfast reservation and substituted a late lunch/early dinner reservation for Crystal Palace. The DD was quite upset by the change, but I was not interested in having a too tired, cranky child on Friday.
Sleeping in late (thank goodness for free internet), we finally roused ourselves around 9:00 and prepared to head over to EPCOT. If you have been following this trip report, you may have realized that we would not do very well with a base Magic Your Way ticket. We have always park hopped – it gives us a chance to take break up our day.
We had another first today – single rider lines! Upon arriving at EPCOT, we DH decided to run over to secure fast passes at Soarin’ while the kids and I made our way over to Test Track. As we waited for his return the stand-by line grew and grew and the skies began to darken as rain approached. Since the kids really wanted to ride and the single rider line was only 10 minutes (compared to the 40 minutes in the stand-by line), I decided the three of us would hop in the single rider line. It worked out well! The DD and DS ended up one car and I ended up in a car just after theirs. Since we had texted the DH about our plans, he also hopped in line. We were all able to ride before the rain came and the ride was closed. After Test Track, we headed over to ride the green line of Mission Space. After which we split up, the boys going to the Sum of all Thrills and the girls going to Living Seas. DH and DS say that the Sum of all Thrills was great – they designed and rode your own coaster. This ride is part of Innoventions and can become quite crowded. When the four of us met back up, we went to see the re-release of Captain EO. I think DH and saw the show the first time we went to Disney 20 years ago. The kids were not impressed. By this time, we could use our fast passes on Soarin’ – second row this time and then it was time to leave for the Magic Kingdom. The DS went on ahead to pick up a few things in our room, while we ran to France so that the DD could purchase an umbrella with her name on it.
The DS had a bad experience on the monorail. He got stuck on the monorail for 30 minutes as the monorail stopped just outside the TTC. The explanation given to the riders was one of the monorails being transferred had not had the necessary safety checks and therefore those checks were preventing it from leaving the station. He finally got off the monorail and was able to catch the monorail to the Contemporary and then finally to the Magic Kingdom in time to make our 3:20 reservation at Crystal Palace. Since we left later than him, we had a rather uneventful ride to Magic Kingdom.
Dinner at Crystal Palace offers a nice selection of foods. We typically eat a CP for lunch. The lunch menu is a bit lighter than the dinner menu and includes cold cuts in addition to salads. The dinner menu is slightly heavier fare and offers more cold salads. The meal was fine – not spectacular, but fine. I would say that it was not worth the price for the buffet.
Our DS decided to take a break and head back to BLT while the rest of the family toured the Magic Kingdom. We were able to catch the Castle stage show, and ride the rides in Adventureland. We went to see the Tiki Birds and everytime I see it I am so disappointed that they changed it from the original. After touring Adventureland, we headed over to Frontierland and rode (you guessed it) Big Thunder Mountain and then Splash Mountain twice. We took our daughter to see the Country Bear Jamboree. She did not enjoy the show as she had a hard time understanding some of the songs and a hard time hearing the words over the clapping of the crowd. Since we were working our way through the land, we rode Haunted Mansion one more time.
Our DS joined back up with us to ride a few rides – we grabbed fast passes for Peter Pan and then headed over to ride Snow White. Since some (or maybe most) of Toontown is getting ready to close, we headed over to ride the Barnstormer and tour Mickey and Minnie’s houses. (Disney rumor – When asked about when Toontown would be closing for good, the cast member could not give a specific date, but did say that the rumor was that Mickey and Minnie’s houses may be moving to the Studios.) Our DD wanted to visit with the fairies and so the boys headed over to Space Mountain and the Carrousel of Progress.
The meet and greet with the Disney Fairies is a nightmare! The room only holds about three families at a time and the fairies spend time talking with each child (which sounds nice, but adds TONS of time waiting). We stood is a rather short line for almost 45 minutes to get about 2 minutes with the fairies. I can not make the math work out on this one – the line should have moved much faster.
When we finally escaped Pixie Hollow – we reconnected by the Stitch’s Dance party. The dance party reminded me of the parties held on the Disney Cruise line. There were characters and a cast member teaching those assembled new dances. When we finally left the dance party, we headed over to the old standard – the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or WEDway People Mover for us old timers). And then finally, we went to ride Peter Pan. While the DD and I went shopping, the DH went to ride It’s a Small World. Before leaving the park, I stopped by the Bakery to get an ice cream sandwich with a snack credit and decided to pick up an extra cookie for my DS. I paid for the extra cookie with cash. While checking out the cashier gave me a tip – he said if you want a cookie as a DDP snack option you only get one cookie, but you can ask for the ice cream sandwich with the ice cream on the side and then you get two cookies and ice cream all for one snack credit.
Check out day! I can’t believe it is time to check out. Believe me, me feet are ready for this trip to be over, but we have not packed a single thing. Okay, everyone up and at ‘em! Time to pack....how in the world did we get this much stuff? Really this is what we came with?
Okay, you get the point. We had to pack and vacate the room. After getting the car packed, we decided to split up. DS and I headed over to Disney Quest and DD and DH headed to Magic Kingdom. We had never been to Disney Quest so it was decided that after DD and DH finished at MK, they would drive the car over to Pleasure Island and join us.
By now, you can probably guess what rides the DD wanted to ride – Splash Mountain, Big Thunder, Space Mountain, and then Splash Mountain again. How many times did she ride Splash Mountain? At some point I will count up all the times it is mentioned in this trip report. Before leaving MK, DD and DH purchased some yummy treats with some of the snack credits left.
The morning was more interesting for the DS and I. We decided to ride the monorail over to the TTC to catch a bus to Downtown Disney. Alright all you Disney buffs, I had indeed forgot that you could not catch a bus to DTD from the TTC. But, as Disney Quest did not open until 11:30 and as we were at the TTC, we decided to take a detour and go to the Poly to grab the best breakfast in all the world – Tonga Toast. I have absolutely LOVED Tonga Toast since I first tried it in 1990. We decided to split one order of Tonga Toast and to celebrate a great trip; we would get a Dole Whip. Okay, so it was 10:30 in the morning – I convinced myself that ice cream at 10:30 was acceptable as it was a “fruit” serving.
Disney Quest is a blast! I can not figure out why we have not gone there before. We loved it. The DS and I (and later the DD and I) competed in Mighty Duck Pinball Slam. It is physically demanding – this aging mom was panting pretty hard after playing. It should be noted that I did have the high score the second time I played. Another really awesome ride is the CyberSpace Mountain. We designed our own roller coaster and then rode it – complete with inverts! This is definitely a location we will visit again.
At about 3:00 we knew we had to get on the road so we grabbed lunch at Wentzel Pretzels and Earl of Sandwich. We actually hit the road at 5:00. Getting to Macon Georgia around 10:30 pm. We stayed at the Hampton at exit 169 on I-75. It is nice hotel and we noted the location so we could stay there on future trips. The trip is almost over and we enjoyed every moment. DH and I constantly remind ourselves that our time vacationing with the DS is almost over. DS has been going to Disney since he was 2; I hope we taught him the value of family vacations.