Laura and Lee's Mostly Live Trip Report

(aka Laura and Lee's April Adventure)

April 22-28, 1999
Part 5

Just a little review...this trip is just the three of us (Laura, Lee, and Tigger) and we're taking advantage of our DVC membership, and will be staying 5 nights in a studio at Boardwalk Villas, though our first night was at Port Orleans.

Tuesday, April 27 - Epcot, Animal Kingdom, California Grill

The daily Swan update...It's still up there watching Lee's every move. We've even noticed "Swan Spies" when we're out in the parks.

The weather report: high 93, low 67. That sounds just like yesterday. Have I mentioned that it's really hot?

We really didn't have any plans for the day other than dinner at California Grill. So we headed off to Epcot to have breakfast at the Fountainview (love those cinnamon pecan croissants!), and decided we'd take it from there. We can always find plenty of things to entertain us at Epcot!

After breakfast we heard a little bit of Future Corps' act, then went to Innoventions to see if we could finally tour the "House of Tomorrow". They had a few neat things - like HDTV - but nothing that I can't live without. (Of course, people probably said that about microwave ovens 30 years ago. :-) ) Still, if they wanted to come and turn *our* house into a house of tomorrow, we'd certainly let them! One interesting thing is that the laptop computer they were showcasing is the same one (Sony VAIO) that I'm typing this trip report on. :-)

We went over to The Land pavilion so that Lee could see the Circle of Life movie - that's always one of his "must-dos". And since he's been pretty good about humoring me, I guess it's about time I did the same. :-)

We visited "Ice Station Cool" to sample the various Coke beverages they offer - that's another thing we'd never done before. Coke evidently makes lots of other NON-cola products in different countries, and they have about 8 different ones for you to try. There's one called Beverly from Italy that is really foul - I don't know if Lee didn't realize that, or just didn't believe what he'd read, because he tried it (I knew better). (He says he was "living on the edge" - his theme for the week.) I think the ginger ale one was my favorite, but there were several that were pretty good. While there, Cast Member Johnny took our picture, and we chatted about computers for a while.

Then it was back into World Showcase to visit some of the countries we hadn't visited for Tigger's "Hats of the World" tour. We'd already done the Norway hat, but we went in to ride Maelstrom while we were there. And we even decided to be good people and stay for the movie.

Germany didn't have any hats, so we had to do something else, and we also had lunch there at "Sommerfest", their little counter service place. I had a ham sandwich on pretzel bread, which was quite good. Lee had bratwurst and sauerkraut, though he doesn't like sauerkraut and didn't eat it. We shared apple streudel...or at least that was the idea - I had a couple of bites and didn't like it at was just too heavy and not sweet enough.

Italy and Japan were also busts in the hat department, so we improvised. At the American Adventure we had just missed seeing the Voices of Liberty :-(, but we went in and saw the show - it's another "must-do" for Lee. (And it's a good place to nap and cool off for me. :-) )

In France we found Tigger a nice beret, and Cast Member Virginie from Toulouse made sure it looked just right on him. She had just visited San Diego the week before, and really had a great trip. She was very friendly - not your stereotypical French person at all. (She even admitted to having developed a taste for California wines during Epcot's Food and Wine Festival last year. :-) )

Our last stop for hats was Great Britain, and we hung around a little while because the World Showcase Players were doing a show soon. And of course the show was, you guessed it, King Arthur and the Holy Grail. We almost left but decided to stick around, which turned out to be a good thing, because Lee was selected to play King Arthur! (In all the times we've watched it, that's the first time it's ever happened.) He did very well, (I'm supposed to tell you that he's the best Arthur I've ever seen :-) ), and delivered all his lines with a great deal of enthusiasm and panache. Oh, and he could definitely "hot cha-cha-cha" with the best of them. Unfortunately the Galahad they picked really didn't measure up at all. Lee as Arthur with the Galahad they had LAST night would have been a great combination...the World Showcase Players might have had to go out and find new jobs. :-)

It was mid-afternoon and HOT again (do you detect a pattern here?), so we went back to the hotel, stopping at the bakery for a root beer float for Lee and an ice cream cookie sandwich (made with two large fresh chocolate chip cookies and a slab of ice cream) for me - I couldn't finish it. We again made the incredibly long trek down the hallway of forever to our room. Lee made sure the Swan wasn't laying in wait for us inside the room - but it was up in its usual spot gazing balefully down on us.

We did the "what do you want to do"..."I don't know...what do YOU want to do" thing before deciding to go back to Animal Kingdom for an evening safari and whatever else we might have time for. We did a quick trip through Pangani Forest Trail and saw the gorillas, who were much more active/visible than yesterday. We also saw a mother hippo with her two month old baby - it was their first day out on exhibit. Then we got in line for the Safari - it was 6:15 and the last one was at 6:30, so we basically walked right onto a vehicle. We saw a pretty good selection of animals, and got VERY up close and personal with several giraffes. We saw three cheetahs, but still no lions. Our driver wasn't very good - it was too much of singsong spiel. But the Game Warden" who announced that "Little Red is OK" must have been from the G.I. Joe school of game wardens. :-) He really yelled it out and played his role with gusto.

After the Safari we just had time to get into the last "It's Tough to be a Bug" show. There were several children that were carried out screaming and crying during the show. And there were a lot of adults screaming, too. :-)

We said goodbye to Animal Kingdom and drove over to the Contemporary Resort for our dinner at California Grill. I'd set up the time so that we'd be there during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, which you can see from the restaurant. We didn't ask for a window table, but we got seated in a small section just one table away from the windows, which offered an excellent view of the fireworks. Our server, Kendall, called it his "Lover's Lane", and before the fireworks started, he came over and instructed everyone on where they were supposed to sit to be next to their loved one. :-)

Our meal was just fabulous - it was quite an experience. We had the flatbread with smoked salmon and chive sour cream for an appetizer, followed by vegetable egg rolls and grilled asparagus with citrus butter. For entrees, Lee had the tamarind barbecue beef filet (one of the house specialties), which he said was the best beef he'd ever had. They didn't even bring him a steak knife - he didn't need one. I had the salmon satay with salmon cake and black bean kim-chee. It was very good, though I still prefer Artist Point's salmon. Kim-chee doesn't do anything for me, either.

Lee had the chocolate chip souffle for dessert, and Kendall made sure it was served the way it SHOULD be served (whether Lee wanted it that way or not. :-) ). It was very good. I had the cappuccino quake with sunflower snap, which was also very good. Plus we learned the story about how the chef came up with it - he was in California when there was a mild earthquake, and that night he had a dream about this dessert...a ceiling tile fell into his coffee cup (the sunflower snap represents the ceiling tile), and the cappuccino mousse is actually cut in half and offset to look like an earthquake fault.

It was a rather lengthy dinner - we had a nice conversation with the couple sitting at the table next to us, who were from Connecticut. They were getting quite the royal treatment from his company - they had arrange a private showing of Fantasmic for their group (about 300) the night before, and were going to a private party at Magic Kingdom the next night, plus putting them up in a suite at the Grand Floridian. Wow.

The lights were already out on the Swan when we got back to our room....wonder what sort of swan-ly mischief it is up to tonight...

Wednesday, April 28 - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Quest, home

The Swan update: Still watching over our room...I think it's glad that we're leaving. Though now it'll get to watch someone *else* instead.

Weather report: High of 85 and scattered thundershowers - which means higher humidity too. I think I'm glad to be going home.

Our last day...always a sad occasion. Though I'm really glad to be leaving all this heat behind - this just isn't my kind of weather.

We packed our bags and loaded them in the car and took the bus to Magic Kingdom (aka Stroller Hell). We arrived about 9:00 and it actually wasn't terribly crowded, and we walked right on to Splash Mountain...the Splash Mountain queue is *almost* as long as the hallway to our room! :-) We rode Big Thunder Mountain with a 10 minute wait, then went over to ride Buzz Lightyear one last time - it was about a 10 minute wait as well. Lee assumed his best long-suffering look when I took this picture of him in front of the castle. :-) We spied some "Swan Spies" over in Adventureland (making sure we were *really* leaving, I guess) and got a Dole Pineapple of the two reasons for going to MK (the other being Buzz Lightyear).

We planned to take the monorail over to Epcot, but the Express Monorail wasn't taking passengers back to the TTC - it was only taking them from TTC to MK. Which makes sense, since at that time of day (11:30) most of the people are coming *into* the park rather than leaving, but it was inconvenient for us because we had to take the Resort Monorail instead, which was very slow. Still, we made it over to Epcot eventually, and decided to get in line for Test Track. The singles line wasn't quite as efficient this time - we were probably inside waiting to get into a Briefing Room for 15-20 minutes. They had the specifications for the Test Track crash dummies on the wall behind us...I discovered that I am an inch taller and 20 pounds lighter than what GM considers to be an average female. :-) Once we got through the briefing we got right onto cars...and when we got outside we were surprised to be pelted with rain! It had been mostly sunny when we went in the building, but judging by the wet ground it had come down pretty hard for a while - fortunately it had stopped by the time we got out of the building.

We left the park, stopping at Canada for one last beavertail on our way out, and we got to say goodbye to Kara, who was making beavertails again that day. :-)

We had decided to spend what time we had left over at Downtown Disney, to shop and maybe try out Disney Quest. We actually went into World of Disney, Team Mickey, and Gourmet Pantry and *didn't* buy anything at all...must be the heat. :-)

It was a long walk down to Disney Quest, and it was hot and humid. I really hate this kind of weather...though at least the rest of the trip, even though it's been hot, it's been relatively low humidity, and not so humid as today.

We had a lot of fun at Disney Quest, though we didn't have time to try out as many things as we would have liked. But we did Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlaster where you drive bumper cars and pick up balls to shoot at other cars, Sid's Create-a-Toy, where you can design weird-looking toys, the Virtual Jungle Cruise where we paddled a raft down rapids and past dinosaurs, Hercules in the Underworld, where you put on a 3-D helmet, and play one of 4 characters (Lee was Hercules, I was Pegasus), and collect thunderbolts, then you hurl them at Hades. I think that was my favorite, and not just because I collected more bolts than Lee (43-37). :-) We also navigated remote-control jeeps through a maze to collect treasure (Treasure of the Incas), and did something called CyberSpace Mountain, where you can design your own roller coaster, then try it out in a motion simulator. (The same type of motion simulator they use for training F-18 pilots.) Ours was a "3" on the thrill factor scale (5 is the highest). Lee went in the simulator and tried it out - I could watch him from the monitor outside - it looked like he was having a good time. :-)

We had lunch and Lee did some sort of virtual reality thing called "Ride the Comix" - he put on a helmet, they gave him the handle for a sword, and he hacked away at opponents. He actually looked very smooth fighting all of those unseen enemies. Guess all those hours watching lightsaber duels in Star Wars movies have paid off. :-)

Then it was time to say goodbye...sigh. There had been another thunderstorm while we were inside Disney Quest, but the sun was back out again - and it was cooler.

When we arrived at the airport our plane was there, but delayed because of the severe thunderstorms in the area...we finally boarded and then were 14th to take off, but couldn't because it was POURING rain. After about 15 minutes planes started to take off, and we got up to 4th in line when the wind shifted, and we had to go all the way to the *other* end of the runway...and then there was another thundershower that delayed us AGAIN. So we took off over two hours late...and of course we missed our connecting flight in Dallas. Delta booked us on an American flight to San Diego, and they actually had everything very well organized, with our flight already arranged and a van waiting to take us over to the American terminal.

As I write this we're on the flight somewhere over New Mexico, I think. We're due in about 11:45...though we have no idea if our luggage will actually make the trip with us. We'll see.

We still had a really nice trip, despite all the heat. It was a lot of fun to try some things that were new to us - like foods, restaurants, rides, Cirque du Soleil, and Disney Quest.

And it was an interesting experience for us to NOT be park commandos, but to take a break in the afternoon - that was actually very nice (in addition to being essential because of the heat).

Some Random Final Thoughts...

Our luggage *did* make it, and my brother Gary still came to pick us up even though we got in so late. We finally got to bed about 1:00 a.m.

It was HOT. But one good thing about it was that it forced us to take a break around 2:00-3:00 in the afternoon, because we were dragging. Or *I* was dragging, at least - Lee handles the heat better. But I'd like to point out that when we got back the room HE was the one who did the most napping, while I usually went to the pool or worked on the trip report. :-)

The heat also made us try a lot of different frozen treats for a change...I like the Kaki Goris available at the Japan pavilion in Epcot. The granitas from Italy was pretty good, too - and Dole Whip is always one of my favorites - I just wish you could get it somewhere OTHER than the Magic Kingdom. We also enjoyed the floats and chocolate chip cookie sandwich from the Boardwalk Bakery.

We had some really great servers at our meals, and having a good one certainly helps the experience. Kendall at California Grill and Jack at Artist Point were both outstanding.

As I'm sure everyone is aware, gas prices have really been going up lately...still, even at Walt Disney World the price for unleaded was $113.9/gallon...which seemed VERY cheap to us, since that's the cheapest it was around here BEFORE prices started going up...and now the lowest I have seen lately is $1.539.

This was our first opportunity to use our new Kodak DC210 digital camera, and we're very pleased with it. It has some nice features that the Kodak DC120 *didn't* have - like exposure control, different flash settings, and a timer. But it's not as high resolution nor does it zoom as much as the other. Still, given how we use it, it satisfies our needs quite nicely.

When we were here at this time of year 3 years ago it was VERY crowded, but the crowds were quite manageable this time. I think the longest we waited for anything was 25 minutes for Tower of Terror. The parks were FULL of teenagers through the weekend, but after that we didn't see quite as many roving gangs of them. (Teenagers can be extremely obnoxious when they are trying to be cool.)

Boardwalk Villas needs more elevators!!! Though we'd be just as happy with stairwells that were accessible from the outside of the building. We almost always used the stairs - and there was never anyone else in them. :-) We miss the convenience of parking right outside our unit like we can at Old Key West, too. But that "walking distance to Epcot" thing that Boardwalk has is a great attraction to us.

Go to Part 1
Go to Part 2
Go to Part 3
Go to Part 4
Go to Tigger's Hat Holiday

Text and photographs copyright © 1999, 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 5/6/99

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