Laura and Lee's Spring Fling

April 28-May 4, 2002
Part 4

Friday, May 3 - Animal Kingdom, Epcot

After we got up we drove to Animal Kingdom to meet Kenny - he lives in Florida, and we always enjoy hanging out with him at WDW - he knows LOTS of stuff about the parks. :-)

The original plan was to get a Safari FastPass and have breakfast at Tusker House...but we were there when the park opened and Tusker House wasn't open for breakfast yet! We got the FastPass anyways, and then went to see the training session for the Pocahontas show. They usually have two of those each day, where instead of doing their usual show, they have training sessions with some of the animals in front of a live audience. We saw two different raccoons (sooo cute!) and a porcupine. The porcupine actually did a much more complex behavior than I'd ever seen, but she only did it right the first time...they tried her a second time and she didn't perform the entire thing.

By then Tusker House was open and we had breakfast and did our Safari. This time the FastPass line was short the way it usually is! The guide we had was pretty good, though he had a pretty heavy Southern accent and pronounced some words a bit strangely.

We made our way over to DinoLand in time to see Tarzan was HOT in the theater! All they have for cooling is fans, and those didn't seem to be helping too much. I don't know how the performers stand it under those hot lights.

After the show we all got FastPasses for Primeval Whirl and went over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek. There were quite a lot of people there - more than I've seen before. We actually spent quite a bit of time watching the bats - there was a Madagascar Flying Fox that was wandering around the ropes (upside down!) snacking on the fruit and vegetables that were hanging there. Somehow they defy gravity because they eat hanging upside down and their mouths are lower than their stomachs!

The tigers were being lazy (not surprising given the heat), and we went back to DinoLand. Oh, that reminds me...this was the first time I've ever seen *lines* for water fountains, but it seemed like everywhere we went in AK that day, there were 2-3 people waiting to fill up water bottles. It was a VERY warm day - the high got up to a record-setting 94.

We went back to DinoLand to ride Primeval World - we still think it's fun even after the second time. By then I was getting VERY warm and told the guys I wanted air-conditioning, so we went to Epcot.

First on the agenda was lunch - we went to the Yakitori counter service place in Japan. Lee tried the Beef Curry bowl which he'd never had before, but said he'll definitely been doing again! Kenny and I both had the yakitori chicken and rice - that's my usual. :-) AND we were able to eat inside!

Since it was so hot it was a good day for being at Epcot where lots of things are inside. We saw American Vybe twice, and also went in to actually see The American Adventure for the first time this trip. We also saw Impressions de France - another nice cool place to be! Kenny and I had a couple of Kaki-goris (shaved ice from the stand in Japan) on the way over to see the World Showcase Players. We were early and caught the end of "British Invasion" - a group of Beatles lookalikes who play Beatles music. Then we found a convenient bench in the shade and waited for the World Showcase Players to show up.

I don't know if they recognized us or what, but pretty quickly they had us pegged as people that had seen the show before - when they instruct the audience on what to say when asked "What do you think of the show so far?" they had us demonstrate the appopriate response, which is, of course, "Rubbish!" :-) Lee didn't get selected to play King Arthur this time. They had a 3-4 year old in the audience do some scene stealing...when the actress said "I am the object of your deepest desires" he pointed at her and started to laugh. That was pretty funny.

We saw "Tapestry of Dreams" from in front of the American Adventure again, and the guys decided they wanted to go over to Disney-MGM Studios to see Fantasmic!. I'd had enough of being in the heat by then (though I lasted longer than they thought I would - it was almost 7:00!). On the way back to the Boardwalk we stopped in at ESPN Club to see if we could get something for dinner but it was packed, so we went back to Big River Grille again. They could seat us inside immediately - but only at the bar. Actually that was a very interesting place to be - the restaurant is non-smoking and had lots of natural light. It was fun to watch the two bartenders do their thing, and we got our food (and drinks!) very quickly. I had the Grilled Chicken Cashew Salad again, and the guys had burgers, which Lee pronounced the best he'd ever had at WDW.

The guys headed off to the Studios - when Lee got back he said Fantasmic! was standing room only, and they had quite a few technical problems. For some reason the show started, then stopped, then restarted a few minutes later. And towards the end, when Mickey picks up his sword to attack the dragon, he dropped it in the water!

From Lee's notes: "The first time Fantasmic! stopped was because Mickey didn't appear when he is supposed to at the beginning of the show (it looked like the lift that brings Mickey up from below the stage didn't work). Also one of the three boats with the dancing couples (the one with Little Mermaid) was missing. I've seen Fantasmic! 6-7 times and never seen a problem before - I think Kenny is cursed."

I went back to the room to cool down with a shower and the rest of the ice cream. :-) I checked the Weather Channel, which reported that the temperature was still 88 degrees - at 9:00 at night!!!

Saturday, May 4 - Epcot, Home

Most times I'm sad to be leaving WDW, and wishing that our flight was later...but this time we had a 6:00 p.m. flight, and I was wishing that it was a lot earlier! The continuous high temperatures over the past week had taken their toll, and I was not looking forward to not having a hotel room to take refuge in during the hottest part of the day.

Lee was up early and went down to the Bakery and brought back breakfast for me. After we finished packing we loaded our bags in the car and went to Epcot - Lee would have liked to go to Animal Kingdom, but I didn't want to be out in all the heat.

I was really out of it that day - a combination of the heat, the benadryl I was taking for my insect bites, too much park time the day before, and the cold I was coming down with, I think. Lee pretty much figured out where we were going and I followed along.

At Epcot we rode Test Track, using the singles line. At the entrance to the Singles line they *tell* you that your party WILL BE SPLIT UP...what is there about that that people don't understand? We had a party in front of us (in the singles line) who had one person in a wheelchair, and when the Cast Member took the person in the wheelchair off into a separate area, I thought one lady was going to pitch a fit, even though the Cast Member *again* told her that "all parties will be split up". The lady who was in the wheelchair was quite capable other than needing the chair, and SHE didn't seem bothered by it. I noticed in the loading area that they tended to split up singles even more by alternating - if the first car needed two singles and the second and third needed one, they'd put the first person in car 1, the second in car 3, the third in car 2, the fourth in car 1, etc.

Once we got off Test Track we noticed there's a new "ride"/exhibit in the pavilion - you sit in a chair and look into a viewer, and the chair spins around in accordance with what you're seeing in the viewer - which is an animated trip with GM's "Dream Team". There were about 24 chairs, so they run that many people through it at a time. There's something similar at Innoventions at Disneyland.

Over in The Land we got Fast Passes for the boat ride/greenhouse tour and then saw "Food Rocks", the musical edutainment presentation on nutrition. I really enjoy the cleverness of this one ...they use songs by "Pita Gabriel", "The Peach Boys", and "Neil Moussaka", among others. It sounds like they got the original artists to perform the nutritionized versions of their songs, too. The boat tour was the's always interesting but goes by way too fast. I haven't seen anything that seemed different in a while.

By this time Spaceship Earth was a walk-on, so we did that, then went back into World Showcase and had lunch at La Cantina de San Angel. It's not great Mexican food but it's not bad, and the Ensalada Mexicana is at least somewhat healthy!

We saw American Vybe's first show at 1:15 then headed out of the park...I was getting really hot and tired.

We'd planned to swim at the Boardwalk and change into clean clothes before going to the airport - Lee went out to the car to get our stuff while I waited in the lobby. HE hadn't had enough heat and exercise, so he actually went back out in it and walked all the way around Crescent Lake AND over to the Studios and back while I went to the pool and found the ONLY chaise lounge that was in the shade. I went in the pool to cool off then got out and read a book - once Lee got there and changed we both went in the pool and used the shower next to the pool to at least get the chlorine off. It was nice to feel less sticky!

By about 3:35 we were on our way back to the Orlando Airport - returned our car and checked in with Delta. Since we knew they wouldn't feed us on the flight we got a sandwich at the deli in the terminal and split that.

Delta had changed our plane since I'd originally booked the tickets, so rather than having two seats on each side of the plane and three in the middle, this one had three seats on each side, and we'd been moved to window and middle instead of window and aisle. That didn't make Lee happy at all (and we were in row 28 instead of 12 like I'd originally selected), but the flight was completely full, so there wasn't much we could do about it. Fortunately, the guy in the aisle seat agreed to switch, but he was a big guy with wide shoulders, so I was crammed in about 2/3rds of my middle seat during the 2.5 hour flight to Dallas. I was VERY glad to get there! The flight home was only about 1/2 full, which was very nice. And it was wonderful to walk outside in San Diego where the temperature was about 60 degrees!!!! I hadn't been that cool since we'd left the week before.

Some Final Thoughts

This trip had some nice moments, but it isn't going to be one of my favorite WDW trips! It was just too hot. I believe that the temperatures in Orlando set records on Friday and Saturday, and tied the record on Thursday. And the rest of the week was over 90 every day - not record-setting, but still higher than the typical high, which is 85.

We enjoyed staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and will probably stay there again. A Savannah-view room is the only way to go, but I'd like to have a view of the Arusha Savannah next time - it seemed to have a lot more animals more of the time than ours (Uzima Savannah) did. We'll definitely be back to dine again at Boma and Jiko, regardless of whether or not we are staying there!

The Flower and Garden Festival was a little disappointing this year since there wasn't as much to see as there has been in previous years. Given the cutbacks and the potential for it to be too hot again, we'll probably skip the Festival next year, and make our spring trip some time in March.

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Text and photographs copyright © 2002 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath
Last updated 5/19/02