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

Part 3

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.

Tuesday, February 3

Today was a busy, but most excellent, Disney Day!

It was overcast  but not raining this morning - woo hoo!  (And Happy Birthday to my brother Gary, too.!  :-) )

future_corps.jpg (21284 bytes)We stopped by the Boardwalk Bakery for breakfast - the pastries were pretty good, but Starring Rolls was better.  This was an *early* start for us - we walked in the International Gate at Epcot and were actually in Future World by 10:15.  We saw some things in Innoventions for a while before going off to see Future Corps perform.  Future Corps is Epcot's 12 piece, precision drilling, brass and drum band.  We'd never actually seen an entire show (the one we saw in December was cut short because of rain - the wimps.  :-) ), and we missed the very beginning of this one, too.  Lee likes to compare them to the band at Disneyland - they do similar things.

After we watched Future Corps we went over to Spaceship Earth - Lee really liked it, I thought it was more of a nice place for a nap.  :-)  It was a very windy day again, and the fountain wasn't performing at all due to the wind, which was disappointing.   We headed back to the Innoventions West breezeway to catch Future Corp's next show - we actually saw the whole thing this time. 

By then World Showcase was open, so we headed up in there to see shows and whatever.   First stop was Mexico, where we rode Rio del Tiempo.  We hadn't done that since our very first trip back in 1988!  I was a bit disappointed in it then, and it hasn't changed - it starts out really well talking about Mayan and Aztec culture, but it ends up being a big tourism ad.  Oh well.

tig_troll.jpg (23512 bytes)We went into Norway next, and rode Maelstrom - it had the shortest line I've seen in a long time.  We'd forgotten that you go down the falls backwards - that was fun.   We're bad people, and we skipped the movie at the end (didn't need to see another tourism pitch), but we stopped in the shops outside to let Tig, Jr. play with some of the trolls.  (Tig has to get eaten by *something* on every trip - this trip it was a troll :-))  At the Kringla Bakkery we  had a couple open-faced sandwiches for lunch, and tried a couple of the ring cakes that everyone raves about.   They didn't do much for us, though.

"World Class Brass", a comedy brass quartet, was performing just outside the bakery - they were very good, and a lot of fun to watch.  Anyone who got their picture taken with them had to hold the miniature plunger, and some of the players made funny faces for the photo. 

In China we saw the dragon art exhibit, and then in the foyer to the theatre, we heard a Chinese harpist playing.  After that we saw the "Wonders of China" Circlevision movie, which we always enjoy.

We walked up to Germany and walked around the shops- we never spend too much time there because there just isn't very much to do.  In Italy we were just in time to hear "I Cantanapoli" - a group of 4 men singing classic Italian songs like O Solo Mio, and Santa Lucia.  Their lead singer was a short, older Italian guy, but with quite a voice - he was having fun with the crowd.

We arrived at the American pavilion just in time for the American Adventure - it was particularly interesting to see this since we had been "behind the scenes" on our Backstage Tour.  After the show was over we ducked back into the rotunda to hear the Voices of Liberty.  At one point during their finale they stopped singing...but we still heard voices!  We all looked around in confusion, and then looked up and saw another group of the Voices of Liberty in the balcony above us, and then the two groups finished the song together.  It was a neat effect, and really sounded great.

drummers.jpg (21231 bytes)In the Japan pavilion we visited the Netsuke art exhibit - there are some very beautiful and intricate carvngs.  Then we caught one of Lee's favorite shows, Matsuriza, the Japanese Taiko drummers.  They're good, and you can tell that they really work hard!

It was getting into late afternoon, and since we needed to be over in the Magic Kingdom by 6:00, we skipped over to Canada to see "Off Kilter" perform.  While waiting, I got a caramel apple to eat (one of my favorite Epcot foods!).  Here's a tip for you: Don't eat a caramel apple on a windy day if you have long hair.  :-)   I managed to eat it without getting too much on me, but it could've been ugly.   Off Kilter was a lot of fun - the combination of electric bass, guitar, keyboard, drum and bagpipes seems a bit odd, but it worked.

Our last stop was in France, to see one of the "Living Statues" - don't take them for granite.  :-)  The crowd wasn't sure if she was real or an audio-animatronic, and it was really fun to watch their reactions, especially the kids.   She made one teenage boy kiss both her hands before she would let go, and stole the sunglasses off the head of another little girl, and held them out of reach.  All without ever cracking a smile.  Ok, now we've seen French "perfomance art" - does that make us cultured?  :-)

We walked back to the Boardwalk, and took a very short break before heading back over the Magic Kingdom for the RADP Meet and E-Ticket Express.  We decided to take the bus instead of driving, and walked down to the bus stop and had about a 2 minute wait until the bus showed up!  We were the ONLY people on the bus.  The driver told us that it was raining a lot in Southern California (we picked a good week to be gone), and we talked about the new Fantasmic show going in at the Studios, and the David Copperfield Magic Underground dinner theatre show that's also going in there. 

castle1.jpg (22556 bytes)After exchanging our E-ticket vouchers and getting our nifty orange wristbands, we walked up Main Street - even more of the castle is exposed now - with the wind and rain we'd had the night before I wasn't sure they would be able to do too much, but evidently they did.  While we we standing in the hub taking pictures, up walked fellow RADPer Anna (BanAnna on IRC) and her husband Rob.  They had just arrived that morning from Ann Arbor - it was going to be a long day for them!.  We chatted for a few minutes but it started raining, so we headed over to Cosmic Ray's, which was where the meet was supposed to take place.

In time, we were joined by other RADP'ers: Wendy and Heather Martin, from Vermont, who had just decided several days earlier to come down and escape the snow, Brian, Sarah, Crystal, and Aimee Gamoche, from Connecticut - it was the girls' first trip to WDW, Bryan Tello and TJ Alioto, from Milwaukee who compared notes on Epcot attractions with Lee,   Valerie Jones and her fiance Jeff - Valerie works at the Magic Kingdom in the costuming department, and I saw her down in the utilidors when we were on a tour the other day, and told her about the meet - I was so glad she could make it - and Jim Shull, also from California, who actually works for Walt Disney Imagineering!  After getting a friendly cast member to take the obligatory RADP Meet photos the group broke up - and 9 of us went over to ride Space Mountain.  No wait - woo hoo!  :-)  It's still not as good as the one at Disneyland, though - I really miss the stereo soundtrack.

radp_meet.jpg (42784 bytes)

Standing, left to right: Jim Shull, Valerie Jones, Valerie's fiance Jeff, Bryan Tello, TJ Alioto, Heather Martin, Wendy Martin, Crystal Gamoche, Brian Gamoche, Sarah Gamoche, Rob, Anna
Seated: Lee Zimmerman, Laura Gilbreath

Our little group rode TTA after that - and Lee and I picked Jim's brain about things that are going on.  He's been one of the concept designers for the new Tomorrowland at Disneyland (opening this spring), but his main project right now is working on new "E-ticket" rides for the Studios and the Magic Kingdom.  He's ridden Test Track, and says that it will open this fall.    He's also ridden Countdown to Extinction at Animal Kingdom, which sounds like a great ride - but he thought one thing that is disappointing is that the detail on the dinosaurs is really wonderful, but they go by so fast that we're going to miss most of it.  We also discovered that Timekeeper is NOT going to open at Disneyland, instead the Circlevision theater will be used in the pre-show for Rocket Rods.  I guess even Disney goes over-budget sometimes. 

After TTA we all went our separate ways - though Lee and I watched the fireworks and talked to Jim for a while longer - we really enjoyed our visit with him.  After the fireworks it was past 8:00 (E-Ticket Express from from 8:00-11:00 tonight, rather than 7:00-10:00 like it usually is), so we were into the E-ticket time.  We said goodbye to Jim and headed off to my favorite - Splash Mountain.

splash.jpg (26496 bytes)There was no line, and we got right on a log - and we rode Splash 4 times in a row without getting off!  WOO HOO!!!  I love this ride!!!  The last two times we had the log all to ourselves.  The only problem was that they were having some problems with the ride, so all four times we got stopped someplace along the way for several minutes.  It was still lots of fun, though - and we were pretty wet after 4 rides in a row.  Thank goodness for water resistant jackets!  Lee was wishing for water resistant pants, though - his seat was pretty wet.  :-)  Hey, did you realize that the vultures that talk to you just before you go up for the final drop must be from Canada?  They say: "So you're looking for your laughing place, eh?"   :-)

When we finally got off Splash we went over to Big Thunder Mountain.  They only had one train running, so we had a short wait.  When we got to the outside part of the ride we noticed we were getting wet again - it was raining!  And we'd come over the BTMRR to dry off a bit!  :-)  Unlike Splash, there were enough people doing this one that we couldn't stay on the train, and had to get off and go back around and get in line again.  We rode it one more time (it had stopped raining), and then went off to see Country Bear Jamboree.  When we went in the theater the CM tried to tell us to go all the way to the end of the row - we just looked at her and said "Yeah, riiight".   :-)  All the CMs seemed very loose - we're not sure if that's because they were having a good time, or if they were just punchy at the end of a long day.

This was the original Country Bear show, which we hadn't seen in quite a while - it was nice to see Big Al again and hear "Blood on the Saddle" again.  :-)    Lee and I both sang along.

Then we went over to the Haunted Mansion.  It was really fun walking around the park - we had heard that they had only sold about 600 E-tickets, and there were very few people there.  I know some people have written in their trip reports that they find it a bit spooky to be wandering around when the park is so empty, but Lee and I loved it - we wish it was like that all the time!  Our only real complaint about the evening is that they should have had one more train running on BTMRR, so that we wouldn't have had to get off and go around and get back on every time.

Anyway, there was no one over at the Haunted Mansion, and we had the elevator all to ourselves going down.  I was quoting our "Ghost Host" as we descended, and Lee looked at me and started to laugh - the CM was standing right behind me with that deadpan expression that they all have.  I gave them both a nice ear-piercing scream at the end, though.  :-)

As far as we could tell we were the ONLY ones on the ride - it was cool!  This one is a bit different than the one at Disneyland - some of the effects are a little better.   We decided not to become the 1000th and 1001th resident ghosts, and went back over to Frontierland and rode BTMRR again.  And then went back to Splash Mountain and rode it two more times (that's 6 times on Splash and 3 times on BTMRR, for those of you keeping count).  I told you that I love Splash Mountain.  :-)

By then it was getting close to 11:00, so we walked out towards the entrance and stopped at the bakery for a brownie and a piece of German Chocolate cake.  Then we skipped out of the park, having had a most excellent evening.  Our bus was right there, and waited for other people for about 5 minutes before taking us back to the Boardwalk.

Tomorrow's plans: We have to go home...  :-(  We'll pack up, check out, and then go back to Epcot until it's time to leave for the airport.

Wednesday, February 4

Our last day...sigh.  Oh well, at least we always leave here feeling like there's more things we want to do that we didn't get a chance to do, rather than feeling anxious to go home!

windy.jpg (19847 bytes)We actually spent much of the morning working on yesterday's trip report - we got in pretty late last night and didn't feel like doing it.  Then we had some problems uploading the changed pages to my web site - had to find a workaround to the normal process.  And we had to pack and check out, too.  So,  it was a little after noon by the time we finally walked over to Epcot.  It was a VERY windy day - fortunately not raining (partly sunny), but the wind was really blowing.

As we walked down the Boardwalk we saw a couple of Disney employees taking down the 25th anniversary banners - Lee said something to them, but they didn't seem too excited about the task.  Whether that is because of the enormity of the task ahead, or because the wind was really making it an unpleasant job today, I don't know.  Maybe some of both.  There were some pretty good whitecaps out on the lake.

We walked in through the International gate and headed to the Patisserie in France to get some lunch - we had yet to have a chance to eat there, and that's normally one of our "spots".  We found a table outside, but had to try to keep our drinks and plates from blowing away.

After lunch we wandered for what little time we had remaining - we caught the tail end of a musical/dance act in Morocco.  The architecture there is pretty interesting - it changes from building to building.  Then we walked down towards England, and finally had a chance to take the little path next to the Rose and Crown that goes down by the lagoon - seems like it's always closed off.  It would definitely be a prime spot for viewing Illuminations from!

By then it was time to leave, so we walked back out to the Boardwalk and drove to the airport, returned the car, and boarded our plane.  We're cruising at about 35,000 feet, somewhere over Arizona, as I write this.  :-)

And  here's a last look at the World Showcase lagoon at Epcot...

ws_lagoon.jpg (14718 bytes)

Some Final Thoughts...

Wilderness Lodge was terrific - I can see why people love it so much.  It's a little bit away from things, but the atmosphere is wonderful.  And our meal at Artist Point is definitely the best meal we have ever had on property - one of the best meals we have had anywhere, I think.

The Boardwalk Villas get somewhat mixed was great to be so close to Epcot and the Studios, especially for us, since we love Epcot so much, but the rooms there aren't nearly as nice as Old Key West - they are smaller and missing some rather necessary amenities (like drawer space).  Our room wasn't right on the Boardwalk itself, but it was on the Boardwalk side (right over the Wyland Gallery, actually), and we could hear a fair bit of noise from the Boardwalk.  The soundproofing in the room itself also left a lot to be desired - we could hear our neighbors.  And the hallways seemed to be quite noisy - there were families out there tromping along yelling back and forth to each other at times.

It was fun to see the "cakesle" coming down - I just wish we could have been here longer to see more of the transformation.  :-)

We still love Epcot the best, but we have a better appreciation for the Studios now, especially the Hunchback of Notre Dame show.  Not to mention the Tower of Terror.   :-)

The Backstage Magic tour was absolutely wonderful, well worth the money.  It was a terrific day.

It was fun to have the digital camera along and to update the web page (or try to) every day - but it was a lot of work, too.  Of course, now I don't have to write a trip report *after* I get home, and it means we got all the details down while they were fresh in our minds.  :-)

Why is it that when the end of a trip here arrives you look back and it does seem like you've been here a long time and done lots of things but you're never ready to leave and there are always lots of things that you didn't get to do?

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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

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