It was a bit chilly this morning! We took our bagels from the bakery back to our room and toasted/ate them there before taking the bus to Magic Kingdom. We lucked out, and an MK bus arrived at the bus stop not long after we did. Our bus driver was full of interesting Disney bus trivia...did you know that WDW uses 230 buses per day? And that the buses log 33,000 miles/day? And use 11,000 gallons of diesel fuel - they get a whopping 3 miles/gallon!
Upon entering the MK we were again very surprised to see holiday
decorations. Main Street was all decked out
for Christmas, with
garlands and wreaths hanging across the street and decorations on
the windows. The Christmas tree was up, too - but rather than
being in Town Square, it was to the right of the castle. But what
happened to the Disney magic of transforming the parks overnight???
I don't really have any objection to them getting an early start
in the other parks, but if there's one place that the holiday
decorations should magically appear overnight, it's Magic Kingdom.
Still...it gave us a chance to see some of the holiday decorations,
which otherwise we would have missed since we're not visiting in
December this year.
We got Fastpasses for Buzz and took a tour around Tomorrowland on the TTA. We called our friend Kenny to arrange a meeting place - he wasn't quite on property yet, but said he'd call us when he got to MK. We went to the Castle and found a pretty good viewing spot for Cinderallabration, which was the first of the new things that we wanted to see. It was a cute show - centered around Princess Cinderella's coronation ceremony, with Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Aurora, and their princes in attendance...though we wondered why Ariel and Eric didn't make the guest list. :-) I thought the Fairy Godmother looked like Lisa, one of the women who has been a regular with the World Showcase Players for quite a while, but we weren't really close enough to tell.
The castle looks very pretty with its 50th anniversary decorations and its changing portrait. It's sooooo much better than Disneyland's castle...
Kenny was actually waiting on the bridge to Tomorrowland when the show
ended, so we didn't even have to call him. :-) He waited while we used
our Buzz Fastpasses, and then Lee decided he was hungry, so we went to
the Tomorrowland Noodle Station. He got the shrimp pad thai, which came
in a VERY generous bowl - he shared it with Kenny and me. It was pretty
good! Definitely a nice change over burgers and pizza.
We left the Magic Kingdom and made our way to the Studios via monorail and bus. The stunt show was coming up in about half an hour, so we walked back there, and then walked, and walked, and walked...it takes a loooooong time to make it to the seats! I'd heard that this show isn't usually full, but this one was filled to capacity. We were way over on the left hand side, about halfway up, but we could still see just fine.
The show features a bunch of car, motorcycle, and jetski stunts. Lots of burning rubber. The first part of it they call an "auto ballet", which involves a bunch of cars chasing each other, doing tight turns, almost crashing, etc. It was waaaay too long. The rest of the show had some cars jumping ramps, explosions, and a guy they set on fire. They had people that talked about the stunt cars and a little bit about how they do what they do, and that was interesting. Overall the show was ok, but certainly not something I'd want to see every trip. And at least getting out of there didn't take as long as getting in - they let us walk out across the stage area.
Time to leave the Studios and go to Epcot for Round 4 of Food and Wine! Though our first stop was at The Land to try to get a Fastpass for Soarin'. Nope, all gone for the day. Ok...so let's see Epcot Vybe! They were on the schedule, but the area where their stage had been was now occupied by the Christmas tree. Kenny found a Cast Member who said they wouldn't be performing for a while...though she didn't know when they would be back. (And since then we have discovered that they were "released from service", and won't be returning. :-( ) Instead we saw a group called "Cyber Groove"...I have to say they weren't really very good, though. Didn't have much stage presence. I predict they won't be around for very long. (My prediction was evidently accurate, since there was no sign of them on our January trip.)
|Chile's Festival Booth|
The World Showcase Players have started performing in Italy since our last visit, and we saw a very moving rendition of "Romeo and Edna". For once Lee did NOT get a starring role...but we were on the "Capulet" side of the audience and not the "Montague" side so they couldn't cast him as Romeo, and I'm *sure* that was the reason.
Three Dog Night was the featured artist at the "Eat to the Beat" concerts for the weekend, and we heard part of their concert while standing beside the "Barley and Hops" booth. Earlier we'd noticed the huge line of people waiting to get in...the majority of the audience was significantly older than we are. :-)
We again attempted to ride Soarin'...but only one of the theaters was working and the line was well over an hour long, so we skipped it and went to Spaceship Earth instead. Now that Siemens has taken over the sponsorship of it, maybe next time we go there will be something in the exhibit area you exit into...right now it's just a big empty space. (As of January: still big empty space.)
Kenny was headed back over to MK for the fireworks and Spectromagic, but since we were supposed to get up and run 15 miles the next morning we wanted to get an early start, and not be out late. (Ok, really we're getting old (though not as old as those Three Dog Night fans!) and we just can't stay up that late anymore...but the running makes a good excuse, don't you think?) Anyway...we said goodbye to Kenny, and headed out to the back of the park.
Though we were still a little hungry...and we wanted something that *wasn't* meat - that was one problem with the F&W booths - LOTS of meat and starches but not much in the way of fruits and veggies. We went to Tangierine Cafe in Morocco and got a vegetarian platter (bread, hummus, tabbouleh, lentil salad, couscous)...and I think we inhaled it in about 5 minutes. I didn't think we were THAT hungry...
Back at the room we got our stuff ready for the run the next day - mixed up the energy drinks for the fuel belt and all of that.
Saturday, November 12 - Run, Epcot, Party for the Senses
I got up around 6:15...which Lee thought was too early. But I wanted to get the 15 miles over with before it got warm!!! We lucked out, since this was the coolest, least humid morning of the entire trip. The sun still came out way too early, though - I was hoping for overcast.
Since WDW doesn't really have a lot in the way of sidewalks we weren't exactly sure how we were going to do 15 miles, but we did a combination of loops around Crescent Lake, the path over to the Studios, and taking the sidewalk around the Swan and Dolphin and Yacht and Beach Clubs. (We both have GPS watches, so that's how we knew how far we were running.) I felt pretty good (better than the last time I did 15 miles), but was glad when it was over...and I'm supposed to do 11 MORE miles in January??? What was I *thinking*???
After showering and breakfast we went into Epcot - it had warmed up a lot and gotten more humid and that walk ALL the way to the front of Soarin' seemed like a looong way. We got there about 11:30...and the Fastpass return time was already 7:00-8:00 that evening!!! Which was right in the middle of the Party for the Senses...but we got the Fastpasses anyway.
The miles, heat, and humidity were catching up with me by then, and I went back to the room (though I stopped at the Boardwalk Bakery to pick up a sandwich and a fruit plate, since I knew I needed food), and Lee decided to do F&W Round 5. :-) After he got back we spent the rest of our afternoon napping and reading - which is our typical Saturday afternoon lately since we've been training for the marathon and have those long Saturday morning runs.
We roused ourselves sufficiently in the evening to get dressed and
make our way back to Epcot. We were early for the Party for the
Senses, so we watched British Invasion. At 6:30 we met the rest
of our group at the entrance to World Showplace - Jenn, Laura, and
Dave. We got checked in and they gave us our wine glass and plate,
and then we tried in vain to find a table. No luck with that.
The party was very crowded - Jenn, Laura and Dave had all been to
them before and said that it was MUCH more crowded than usual, and
Laura heard some cast members talking and saying the event had been
oversold. I believe that. So we ended up getting food and then
standing in a circle to eat it - not the easiest way to enjoy what
you're eating. They'd given us a "program" when we entered that
listed what foods and wines were where, but we ended up putting
those away because otherwise it was one more thing to carry. So
we really didn't know where things were and what we wanted to try
- we ended up kind of aimlessly wandering around the room, and I
know I missed out on a few things I would've tried had I known they
The party is set up with various stations staffed with chefs from Disney restaurants, as well as non-Disney chefs from all over the country - even some from Turkey and Spain. And there are a wide variety of wine and beer stations, also. Since we paid $95 in advance to get into the party, once inside there was no additional charge for anything - just go stand in line and someone would hand us a plate of food or fill our wine glass with whatever we asked to try. The food was prepared fresh in front of us and garnished appropriately before they handed it to us. The food selections included things like mole-braised venison on smoked gouda cheese grits, black truffle macaroni and cheese, roasted lamb with eggplant puree in phyllo baskets, seared scallops with mango and papaya tossed in key lime vinaigrette, wild mushroom gnocchi with chive emulsion and roasted porchetta with green apple risotto and a pork demi-glace.
In the middle of the room was a stage, and different performers from Cirque du Soleil - La Nouba performed there. We didn't see much of that, though - while the La Nouba performers are very good at juggling, *we* found it difficult to balance a plate and wineglass and watch them at the same time.
There was certainly plenty to eat, though again, the food was pretty overwhelmingly meat/seafood/starch, and not much in the way of veggies. I found one dish that was served with a garnish of radish sprouts and red and yellow grape tomatoes - I enjoyed the garnish more than the lamb!
And of course we had to leave room for some of the amazing desserts! We had a wide selection to sample, like fall harvest cranberry tart with pumpkin pie ice cream, baked chocolate mousse cake with passion fruit brulee, and banana brulee with macadamia nut crunch.
About 8:30 they started "encouraging" people to leave by telling them Illuminations was starting in half an hour. A lot of people did, and so we finally found a table and sat down for a while. At 9:00 we wandered outside and sort of saw Illuminations - unlike Thursday night, this time we could see the globe and the water screens, but couldn't see the fireworks very well.
We said goodbye to Jenn, Laura, and Dave and went to Soarin' to see if we could use our Fastpasses. Every other day they had been open until 10:00 at night but that night (and it was *Saturday* night) they had closed at 9:00!!! Grrr. Ok, so it's not like we haven't ridden Soarin' lots of times at California Adventure, but we wanted to see it in Florida anyways. Sunday morning would be our last chance...
Sunday, November 13 - Sweet Sundays, Home
We got up, packed, had breakfast, put our luggage out in the car and walked to Epcot. Even though it was only 9:15 (and the park had opened at 9:00) there was a HUGE crowd of people going into The Land, and the Standby line already said it was 50 minutes. Since we were supposed to be at the Odyssey to attend the Sweet Sundays presentation at 10:00 that wasn't going to work. We got Fastpasses...for 10:45-11:45, and hoped we'd be able to use them...
We still had some time before we needed to be at the Odyssey, so I made Lee go into Innoventions and send some Internet postcards from the IBM booth. Is it just us, or have they lowered the cameras? We had to stoop so that our heads wouldn't get cut off. They have added a new fireworks background since we last did this, too.
Over at the Odyssey we waited outside for a while - they checked our names off a checklist and let us in promptly at 10:00. The room was set up with a bunch of tables (seating 6, with all seats mostly facing the stage) and a kitchen area on a raised stage at the front. There were also two big video monitors - one of those was right in front of where we were sitting.
The "Sweet Sundays" events feature a chef who demonstrates the creation of several different desserts, and then you get to sample all of them. It was $55/person, and also included breakfast and some wine.
Our host Pam did a short introduction, then we were free to enjoy the "light" Continental breakfast. They have an interesting concept of "light". :-) There was fruit, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, and sausage. It was pretty good. The event was sponsored by Martini and Rossi, and we received a couple of short presentations on the two wines they served us - something called a Prosecco, which was a white, lightly sparkling (frizzante) wine, which was served with breakfast, and the well-known Asti Spumante they served with the desserts. Who knew that there was a "breakfast wine"? :-)
Once we were finished eating the chef, Antony Osborne, began his presentation. At each place setting were the recipes he was using, and we were encouraged to follow along. A cameraman typically had a camera poised right over whatever Chef Osborne was doing, so we got a really good view of it on the video monitors...though every once in a while he'd get too close and steam would fog up the lens. :-)
The featured items were Banana Creme Brulee, Chocolate Mousse with Macadamia Nut Crunch, and Kulfi Chocolate Ice Cream. The mousse had several parts, and he started by making the caramel for the macadamia nuts, then made the mousse. Though he had to have us make corrections to the recipe - he hadn't sized it properly for 6 servings...more like 26. :-)
He was a very good speaker - though it wasn't a very humorous presentation I still found it very interesting and I learned a few things. The host was really good about asking questions which helped to clarify things for the audience...like where we could find various supplies and ingredients, or what we could substitute.
After the mousse was in the refrigerator setting up he made the Banana Creme Brulee. This was cold-set with gelatin rather than baked in a water bath. About this time they served us a plate with the three desserts on it, plus a glass of the Asti Spumante. (He and his helpers had made our desserts the day before.) Unfortunately for me, although the chocolate mousse he prepared in front of us was per the recipe, the one we were served he had modified by adding orange zest to it...which pretty much ruined it for me, since I don't like chocolate and orange together. Sigh. I'm not a big banana fan, either. The brulee was ok...but Lee (who DOES like bananas) said that he prefers the texture of a traditional baked brulee to the cold-set version. The Kulfi ice cream was kind of different - flavored with Munjari chocolate and a little bit of cardamom. He made the ice cream base, but didn't actually demonstrate the freezing process...evidently they have some kind of technique now that allows them to freeze it quite quickly.
His presentation actually ended at 11:30 - earlier than I thought. He was available afterwards for questions but we had those 11:45 return time Soarin' Fastpasses burning a hole in our pockets, so we went over there...made it at 11:43 - two minutes to spare. (Yeah, I know that they probably would have let us in even if we'd been late, but why chance it?) We zipped past all those poor suckers in the Standby line, and were at the departure gate in just a few minutes. The queue area is different than that at Disney's California Adventure - it focuses on environmental issues rather than aviation history. Which isn't really surprising, because the theme at The Land is much different than the theme at Condor Flats!
|Buzz About Honey booth|
So we *finally* got to do Soarin'...we were starting to wonder if we'd have to wait until January!
We visited the "Buzz About Honey" and "Nuts About Peanuts" booths that were set up in Future World East. Did you know that honey will keep indefinitely? And that bees produce MORE honey than their hives need? Which of course they'd have to do since the humans steal so much of it...but we were wondering if they'd always done that, or if it was an adaptation to the felonious human population.
Over in the peanut exhibit we found two guys that were REALLY happy to talk to us about peanut farming, and Georgia farming in general, and we probably spent 20 minutes there. It was pretty interesting, though.
I got a Rainbow Kaki-gori on my way out of the park...Note to self: do NOT attempt to eat a kaki-gori while walking. I ended up with red snow cone down the front of my white shirt. Which I'd planned to travel home in...I had to pull another shirt out of the suitcase and change at the airport.
Anyway...we made our way back to Dollar Rental Car Return at the airport. And checked the receipt carefully...they had NOT charged us for the insurance (how many of you predicted wrong in part 1? :-) ), but they HAD charged us almost $50 for re-fueling - even though we'd returned it full!!! The return lady had read the temperature gauge and not the fuel gauge...great...we were running a little late, and now we had to go to the rental car counter in the terminal to deal with this!!! She walked us over there and fortunately we didn't have to wait long and they got it straightened out. And as it turned out our flight was delayed by about 20 minutes, so we were ok anyways.
Though our flight was delayed we fortunately didn't have a real close connection in Atlanta, so we had plenty of time to get to our gate AND get something to eat - even though we had to go from Terminal T to E (the furthest apart you can get!). We got into San Diego around 8:40.
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Text and photographs copyright © 2005, 2006 by Laura Gilbreath. 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 lgil at lgil dot net