Laura and Lee's Almost-Like-Being-There Trip Report

Part 2

Hello! Thanks for joining us for our mostly live trip report. We've never tried to do this before, so we'll see how it goes. In addition to the laptop, Lee is bringing his digital camera, so we hope to have some photos to share with all of you, too.

Saturday, January 31

tig_towel2.jpg (17881 bytes)Happy Anniversary to us!  :-)  It's 11 years today.  We celebrated by sleeping in late this morning.  That's what happens when you're old married folks, I guess.  :-)  We went down to have breakfast at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.   It was late enough that things were actually pretty quiet, and they seated us all the way in the back by the fireplace, which was a quiet out-of-the-way spot.  We had a nice breakfast, and no one bothered us.  Our server was "Red Bird" - she was definitely a lot more laid back than most of them seem to be.

After breakfast we went back to the hotel room and found that our maid had gotten creative - Tigger was sitting on the bed riding on the back of an elephant.  Woo hoo!   :-)

Then we headed off to Disney-MGM Studios.  It was a busy day there because of the High School Dance Championships, and several shows were closed (Indy, Superstar TV, Goosebumps) because competitions were being held there instead.  The attractions themselves weren't terribly crowded, though.  We went back to the Hunchback show first, and were early enough to get great seats right on the side of the stage runway.  The weather was certainly a WHOLE lot better than when we saw this show in December - it was a beautiful sunny day - still not especially warm, though.  (I was still in jeans and sweatshirt all day.)

We enjoyed seeing Matt the Juggler (we know the answers to his questions now :-) ), though he had forgotten his ring for his finale, so instead of spinning the plate, juggling balls, yo-yo'ing and spinning a ring on his leg, he only did the plate, juggled, and yo-yo'd.  It was still pretty impressive.

The Hunchback show was great, and we really enjoyed it again.  It was a little different this time because they *didn't* have to change things on the fly because of the weather like they did in December.  We both really enjoy Hunchback - you feel like you have just seen a short Broadway show.

After Hunchback we went to the Beauty and the Beast show.  We didn't have time to catch the entire pre-show, Four for a Dollar, though, which was unfortunate, because they are *really* good.  The BATB show doesn't do much for me, but Lee enjoys it (with a lead named "beauty" what's not to enjoy - Lee).   Though, both of us would rather listen to Four for a Dollar.  :-)

lee_tower.jpg (36367 bytes)Then we went to the Tower of Terror - the sign outside said there was a 30 minute wait, but we only waited about 10 minutes.  I love that ride - I think I enjoy it more than Lee does.  What a rush!  :-)   See???  We actually rode a ride today!  :-)

We had a snack from the "Starring Rolls Bakery", and then wandered into the animation store.  Lee spent quite a while talking to the animator who was hand-painting cels - he was certainly doing a much neater job of it than we did yesterday.   All the feature films are painted by computer, the only hand cell painting is for the direct-to-video stuff and the booming collectable market. Lee was so inspired he bought some cell painting kits and a couple "how to draw Disney characaters" books. We definitely have a new appreciation for that artwork after our tour yesterday.

I wanted to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid (which Lee doesn't like so well), so we stood in line for that.  We sat about 3/4 of the way back this time, which is actually much better - you really don't notice the puppeteers.  I think it's a very cute show, and Lee actually enjoyed it a lot more this time than he did last time.  I don't know if that's because getting misted on isn't so bad when it's sunny outside instead of rainy, or something else...maybe this Ariel was prettier?  :-) Lee says he still thinks the show itself is silly, but the multimedia presentation is pretty cool - black light puppets, water effects, film, lasers and live action all rolled into one (and yes, this Ariel was a major babe).

We did a little shopping before going back to the hotel to rest up before our big dinner at Artist Point tonight.

ll_anv2.jpg (30569 bytes)It was an *incredible* meal.  Our server was Ty, whom we met on the tour on Thursday - Stan had also told us to ask for him.   We didn't really know what wine to go for, so Ty brought three for us to try - we really enjoyed the Johannesberg Riesling, and ordered a bottle of that.  Lee  had the sweet potato soup, and I had the Lodge green salad - with fresh greens, apples, and a wonderful brown sugar vinaigrette.  Awesome.  We both had the "Cedar Plank Wild King Salmon", which is roated on a red  cedar plank with apples and fresh herbs, and finished with a maple whiskey glaze.  The planks were flaming when Ty brought them to the table.  Delicious!  For dessert we had the house specialty - berry cobbler.   These were the best berries I think I have ever tasted - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and boysenberries - all sweet and HUGE and delicious.  The vanilla ice cream was wonderful, too.  The whole thing just melted in your mouth.   Ty said he made the cobbler himself, and it was on the house since it was our anniversary - woo hoo!  This is definitely one of the best meals we have ever had.

Tomorrow's plans: Moving over to Boardwalk Villas, and visiting Epcot Center - maybe we'll actually ride something else!   :-)

Sunday, February 1

bigtig2.jpg (24299 bytes)Sigh...Time to check out of the Wilderness Lodge - that was rather sad, because we both really enjoyed staying there, and would love to stay there again sometime.  We were both still full from last night, so we didn't feel like eating breakfast.   Artist Point does a character breakfast featuring the Pooh characters, and had this big stuffed Tigger sitting outside - I wanted to get a picture of me and Tig Jr. and the big Tigger before we left.  :-)

We loaded the car and drove over to Disney's Boardwalk, where we are using some of our Disney Vacation Club points to stay in a Studio at the Boardwalk Villas.  The CM who checked us in was definitely NOT Mary Sunshine - she wasn't grumpy, but she didn't go out of her way to be helpful or communicative, either.  Whatever.  Our room wasn't ready, so we walked over the Epcot via the International Gateway - that's definitely an advantage to staying here!

We actually made it into a park before noon today!  (10:30, actually.)    Will wonders never cease?   :-)  World Showcase was not yet open, so we walked up to Future World and rode Horizons...each time we ride it we think it'll be the last.  But who knows, maybe Test Track will *never* open, and Horizons will remain!  :-)  (We also found it very amusing that there is quite a bit of Test Track merchandise for sale even though the ride isn't open.)

We were finally feeling a little hungry, so got some croissants at the Fountainview Cafe, and watched the fountain dance.  The cinnamon and pecan croissant I had was great - I think I like it better than the chocolate croissants (and they make VERY good chocolate croissants).

Journey into Imagination was next - absolutely no line (none for Horizons, either).   And then we went up to play in the Image Works for a while - another of our favorite things to do.

tig_stage.jpg (17763 bytes)We have never spent much time over in the "Wonders of Life" pavilion, so we went over there and did a lot of things we had never done.  We saw two shows of the "Anacomical Players" - in the second one Tigger got to be the object that the "psychic" was trying to identify.  We laughed listening to all the hints she was being given..."stuffed", "pooh", "the wonderful thing about this object is that it's the only one..."  :-)  She finally got it, but it took a while.  We also saw Cranium Command, which is a very clever and well-done show, and The Making of Me, which we'd never seen.  And we played with some of the different sensory apparatus - some of that stuff really fools your eyes!

As we headed back over towards Innoventions East, we heard a man tell his family: "Only one more thing and then they'll let us leave".  Hmmm...we weren't aware that you had to visit a requisite number of attractions before they would let you out of the park...if that were the case, there's no way they would have let us leave a couple of days ago!  :-)

We did some shopping at Centorium, and had a late lunch over at the Land's food court, and then saw Food Rocks.  Pita Gabriel and Neil Moussaka...hee hee.

We wandered back into World Showcase and watched the guy who is carving a new totem pole for Canada carve for a while - he says he expects to finish the totem pole in March, and that they might put it up in the Canada pavilion in early April.  So I hope we'll see it standing on our next trip in May.

players2.jpg (32003 bytes)Over in England we watched the World Showcase Players perform "King Arthur and the Holy Grail".  The audience participant playing King Arthur was really having a good time, and was a lot of fun to watch.  The audience was very much into answering "RUBBISH" when asked what we thought of the show.

By then it was close to 4:00, which meant we could go back and actually get into our room.  We have a nice room with a balcony, that overlooks the courtyard on the Boardwalk side of the Lobby.  From the balcony we have a good view of the Boardwalk itself.  One thing we are disappointed in, though, is that there is very little storage space - only two drawers and the closet, and only half the closet is easily accessible.

We both took a short nap and then wandered down on the Boardwalk in search of dinner - we decided to eat at the Big River Grille.  We each had the smoked turkey sandwich, which was pretty good.  Things weren't very busy down on the Boardwalk at that time - we watched the people running the carnival games just hanging around trying to amuse themselves - there weren't too many people interested in playing the games.

Lee decided he was interested in going back to Epcot for a while and seeing Illuminations, and I stayed here to relax and update this page.  We can see the Illuminations fireworks from our room - the high ones, at least.

Lee adds - I got back to Epcot about 7:30. I caught the tail-end of an Off Kilter show and then headed into Future World to see Circle of Life. I love Circle of Life and Laura doesn't really like it, so it was a good chance to see it without her. Between all the health shows this morning and Circle of Life I'm ready to sell my car and start riding my bike to work again. Wonder how long that will last? :-). I saw a full Off Kilter show next, they are really good and drew quite a crowd. Then it was time for Illuminations. Since this was the first night of post-25th Anniversay events, I was curious what they were going to do. I'm not sure I remember eactly what the old normal Illuminations was like, but I'll describe what they did tonight. The show was called just Illuminations and started off with spoken welcomes from representatives of each of the countries and then there was a fairly long medley of international songs. All of the countries participated in the light show for this (as opposed to highlighting each of the countries). Next there was a long laser show segment featuring the baby which highlighted each of the pavilions in Future World (including Test Track). Finally, there was a segment done to Ode to Joy.Some of the fireworks seem different than I remembered them too. Oh well, maybe the experts can convene and decide if this is a new show.

Tomorrow's plans: Magic Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios.


Monday, February 2

matt.jpg (14353 bytes)We decided to take Disney transportation today, and rode the boat from the Boardwalk over to Disney-MGM studios.  The boat was full of noisy kids and lots of strollers...sigh.   We should've driven ourselves.  :-)  Heavy showers were predicted starting around 11:00, and the skies were quite overcast, so we took our jackets and hoped for the best.

We had breakfast at "Starring Rolls" at the Studios - the cinnamon swirl roll was very good.  After that we headed back to see the Muppet 3D show - which is always one of my favorites.  By then it was time to get seating for the Hunchback of Notre Dame - we've become Hunchback groupies, I guess.  :-)  We didn't get to sit right next to the runway like we did on Saturday, but were still right on the aisle a couple rows back from the end of the stage.

We enjoyed watching Matt the Juggler's pre-show - and we've learned the answers to most of his questions, and know what to shout at the appropriate time.  Three ball juggling  is very "BORING!", for example.  Matt was a little bit off today, and dropped things several times.  But at least he didn't forget the ring for the finale, so we got to see him do all four things this time.  :-)

hunchback.jpg (20241 bytes)The Hunchback show was good, as always - but it was a bit different this time, because there were different actors playing Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, and Laverne.  The new Quasi was every bit as good as the other one, and it was interesting to see someone else play the role.  We didn't like the new Esmeralda quite as well - she tended to rush her dialogue too much.

It was noon when the show ended, but it still wasn't raining, which was very nice!   We walked down and got in line for Tower of Terror, but decided it was a little too long (50+ minutes).  So we went over to the Beauty and the Beast show, intending just to watch Four for a Dollar's pre-show, but learned that they had the day off.  Sigh.   We decided to split up at that point so that I could go ride Tower of Terror while Lee had lunch and poked around in the Animation store.

The line for the Tower moved VERY slowly - there were only two elevators running, and they were evidently having some problems.  But by being a single, I got to skip ahead of about 15 people at the very end and fill up the last seat in one of the elevators...woo hoo!  :-)  Love that last drop, where they shoot you all the way up to the top and then don't stop you at the top, but just let you fall all the way down.    :-)

That took almost an hour, so I went over to the Animation store and met Lee. 

By then it was almost time for the 2:00 Hercules Parade (what time is the 2:00 parade?   :-) ), and we decided it was a good time to leave.  It was still quite overcast, but still not raining - hooray!  We took the bus from the Studios over to the Contemporary Hotel, and then walked from there to the Magic Kingdom. 

castle.jpg (24480 bytes)As we walked down Main Street, I was VERY happy to see that the crane next to the castle was up, and that the ugly pink monstrosity is FINALLY coming down!!!  In this picture you can see that they have removed several of the inflatables from the lower left hand side of the castle, and the blue turrets are again visible.  I'd be more than happy to volunteer to help them transform the castle back to its original state - I know I'm not alone in feeling that way.  :-)

We went to see the Legend of the Lion King show, which neither of us had ever seen.   This show is done with puppets, and looks pretty good - it's interesting to see.   In addition to the puppets, there's one "real" actor dressed up as Rafiki.

After that we rode Peter Pan - the first time we'd done that here in Florida.   It's a lot better than the one at Disneyland - a little bit longer, and the line moves a lot faster.  Lee tried to talk me into It's a Small World, but I told him he could do it without me if he really wanted to do it.  (He didn't.)   My record is still intact - I still haven't ridden the one in Florida.  :-) 

Since Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is probably going away we did that twice - and did both the right side and the left side - and we finally saw the naked lady.  (Ride the left side, and she's on the wall in the pub).  I guess I can understand why Disney is thinking about closing this one...a ride with a naked lady in it where you die and end up in hell at the end doesn't seem very Disney'ish.  :-)  The two CMs on the left hand side wanted me to leave Tigger with them instead of taking him on the ride - but finally let us go if we agreed to let Tigger drive.  :-)

We went into Timekeeper after that - they are bringing this attraction to the new Tomorrowland at Disneyland, and it will be interesting to see if it's the same or if they change it at all.  We did a little shopping on Main Street before heading out to the bus stop - it was just starting to sprinkle when we left the Magic Kingdom, and was raining by the time we got back to Boardwalk.

In the lobby we stopped to see if we could get Priority Seating set up at the Flying Fish restaurant that night - they told us yes, we could, if we could be ready to eat in 11 minutes.  :-)  But we were ready, so we made a quick stop in our room to drop things off, and then headed down to the restaurant, which is just next to the hotel.

We had a very nice dinner - we both had the pumpkin soup and the grilled swordfish with risotto and carmelized onions.  It was good, but not as good a dinner as we had at Artist Point the other night - plus it was more expensive and the portions were smaller.   We split the "Lava cake" for dessert.  That was pretty good - warm chocolate cake (almost like a souffle) with melted chocolate inside, but, again, the berry cobbler at Artist Point was a lot better, and a WHOLE lot bigger.  I guess we just got very spoiled at Artist Point, and from now on will be comparing every Disney dining experience to that.  Don't get me wrong - we had a very good dinner at Flying Fish, but just not quite as good.

By now it was raining in earnest - we had hoped to go back to Epcot and see Illuminations tonight, but it just kept right on raining (it's still raining as I write this).  They still performed the Illuminations show, and we at least saw some of the fireworks from our room.

Lee worked on downloading and organizing the pictures from the digital camera, and I wrote a bunch of postcards and read a little bit.  And once he decided to let me have the computer I updated this page...  :-)

Tomorrow plans: Epcot, and an evening RADP meet at Magic Kingdom, followed by E-Ticket Express

Back to Part 1
Go to Part 3

Text and photographs copyright 1998, by Laura Gilbreath and Lee Zimmerman. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 2/4/98

Back to Laura and Lee's Vacation Page