Laura and Lee's Holiday Hijinks

November 28-December 5, 2001
Part 3

Monday, December 3 - Animal Kingdom, Epcot

Lauri left *early* in the morning (about 4:00) to drive back to Miami to go to work - we were really glad she'd been able to come and spend a couple of days with us, and she now understands why *we* spend so much time at WDW - and "threatens" that she'll be joining us on future trips. :-)

We slept in and had breakfast at OKW's take-out place - Goods to Go. Nothing fancy, but it was not bad, and easy! We drove to Animal Kingdom and wandered around before going to Tusker House to meet Paul and Ilene for lunch. They had been on one of the backstage tours that morning and saw some of the animal "barns", the vet hospital, food preparation facilities, and other things - it sounds like they had a very interesting tour and really enjoyed it! We had a nice lunch and then took a walk on the Pangani Forest Trail. Saw lots of birds, and a few gorillas. Unfortunately we had to cut our visit short because I'd arranged to meet up with someone else over at we headed over there.

Barbara and Allen had never been to Walt Disney World before, and we had fun doing a short tour of Epcot with them - we rode Test Track (used the singles line this time, which was quite efficient), and saw Cast in Bronze, then walked back to the American Adventure with them, where they picked up their Candlelight Processional package and went and got in line. They enjoy many of the same things we do (the shows/street acts/entertainment rather than the rides) - I'm sorry we didn't have more time to spend with them.

Since we were also doing the Candlelight Processional that night (but a later show) we had our 15% discount for the day - and it was time to go spend some of it! :-) We went back to Mousegear and did some shopping, though I think I'm the only one who got much this time. I got a new Tigger polar fleece pullover and the Reindeer Tigger 2001 Christmas beanie for me, and also picked up a few Christmas gifts. Had them package expressed back to OKW - that's SUCH a nice perq when you're staying on-site!

We went back to the America Gardens Theater to find Jack Marshall and got in the huge line of OTHER people who had reserved seating for our performance - we found Jack waiting for us at the front of the line, since he'd arrived well before we did. (We weren't late - he was *early*! :-) ) We still got good seats in the side section - I don't think being up close is really a very good thing anyways since you don't get a good overall view, nor the blended sound.

Our narrator was Wayne Brady, and he was pretty good - he seemed very happy to be there, and commented that he was so lucky to have the best seat in the house! The music was terrific, as always, though I have my usual complaint that I wish they would do some different music - it's been the same for the last 5 years that we've seen it.

We were quite early for our dinner seating at Le Cellier, but that just meant that we were actually seated at about the time our priority seating was supposed to be, rather than having to wait another 20-30 minutes after that. :-) And besides, it gave us more of a chance to talk with Jack. We had a very nice dinner - the guys had steak, and I had my usual maple-glazed salmon, though they are doing it a little bit differently now. The French lentils they served with the salmon were delicious! Lee's Mushroom Filet Mignon was quite a work of art. I had the "100 Years of Magic Chocolate Cake" for dessert which was VERY good.

By the time we rolled out of there the park was closed, and we all walked back out to the parking lot where we said goodbye to Jack, and headed back to OKW. And crashed. It had been a very busy few days!

Tuesday, December 4 - Epcot

Another late start...but hey, we ARE on vacation!!! :-)

The mission for the day was to see ALL the holiday storytellers in World Showcase, since I didn't get to see ANY of them last year. Since World Showcase didn't open until noon, there really wasn't any rush to get there - though we did play around in Innoventions a little bit.

One of the parts of Epcot's "Holidays Around the World" celebration is the holiday storytellers - at each pavilion (except the U.S. - they have Santa Claus there for pictures, but I guess they figure everyone knows *his* story) there is a storyteller who comes out periodically and talks for 5-10 minutes about the holiday traditions of that country. They don't change much from year to year (though the actors do), but I still enjoy seeing them.

From initially looking at the schedule it looked like they were spaced well enough that you could start from one side and work your way around World Showcase in a couple of hours - but that ended up not being the case, and we did a lot of running around. (It IS possible to walk from Japan to China in less than 5 minutes... :-) )

The first three seemed like they should be easy - Mexico, with Los Tres Reyes Magos, Julenissen in Norway, and the Monkey King in China - all scheduled 15 minutes apart. We saw the "Three Kings" talk about "Las Posadas" in Mexico - this is the only country where there is more than one storyteller.

Julenissen is a gnome who lives in barns and eats porridge that the family leaves for him at holiday time. When I went up afterward to have a picture taken with Tigger, he said "Ah, I've seen this Tigger on the Internet!" - so evidently gnomes have Internet access, too. :-) (And now hopefully Julenissen will see himself on the Internet, too... ;-) )

We went to China and waited for the Monkey King...and waited...and waited...finally decided that he wasn't going to show (there were several other people waiting, too), and went over to Japan to see the Dharuma seller. We waited for a few minutes (the only ones there) and then this little Japanese lady came out, and asked if we were waiting for the show, and we said yes. She said she was very sorry, but her props had gotten locked up, and she hadn't been able to get to them. When we told her we'd seen the storyteller before, she said she'd be happy to do it for us, and we could use our imaginations in lieu of her props. So she had us sit down on the concrete bench and we got our own private storytelling session! She was very cute, and did a great job even without the Dharuma doll and her cart. (We walked by later and saw that she *had* gotten her props, but I think the performance she did for us was far more special!)

From there we rushed back to China again...the Monkey King was late, but at least he DID show up this time. I don't remember the order after that, but we saw Pere Noel in France, Le Befana in Italy, St. Nicholas in Germany, the Taarji in Morocco, Canada's Santa Claus, and Father Christmas in the UK. They were all very gracious about pictures - Canada's Santa Claus commented that he liked "children with experience", and Father Christmas insisted on holding the mistletoe over our heads. :-) (Lee wondered why I was having so much fun having my picture taken with long white-bearded men! :-) )

Also in the UK we watched the World Showcase Players perform their version of "A Christmas Carol" - Lee was selected to play Bob Scratchit. (Though he'd have had more fun with Scrooge!) We ran into some of the other RADPers there - saw Jack again, as well as Kevin, Catherine and Lori(?).

Somewhere in there we had lunch at the Tangierine Cafe in Morocco (I *told* you it was one of our favorites!), and after we had seen all the storytellers we saw American Vybe in the American Adventure (never did see Voices of Liberty) and then went in and watched the American Adventure. The guy who had played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol was sitting in the row behind us and he and Lee said hi to each other.

We positioned ourselves near the Odyssey to watch the space shuttle launch, but heard from other people who had radios that it had been postponed, so we went and watched the Epcot Tree Lighting ceremony. Cast in Bronze played several songs (including Carol of the Bells - it sounds awesome on a carillon!), and then the lights came on, first on the "Lights of Winter" arches, then finally all the way up the tree. It's really a nice sight to see.

It was after 6:00 by then, and starting to get a little cool for me, so we headed back to OKW so I could get a sweatshirt, then drove over to Downtown Disney. We had dinner at the Wolfgang Puck's Express on the Marketplace side (as opposed to the West side where we'd eaten before), then did a little shopping at the big World of Disney store, but didn't buy much of anything. We got some desserts to go at the Gourmet Pantry (the turtle cake was VERY good!) and went back to OKW. It was still relatively early, but I'd gotten several mosquito bites a couple days before, and two on my leg had made my ankle/foot swell. It was very uncomfortable, despite large doses of Benadryl. Putting my feet up felt pretty good. At least this time the bites have not persisted for 3 months like they did after my last trip!

Wednesday, December 5 - home

We had a 1:00 flight, and given the recommended two hours prior check-in, returning the car, etc., we really didn't have time to do anything more than pack and eat breakfast. It was unfortunate, because that day was the actual date of Walt Disney's 100th birthday, and there were some special events planned. We did have time to have a nice sit-down breakfast at Olivia's rather than something fast, though.

And of course it *didn't* take us two hours to check in, so we sat around the airport for a while, but we had a pleasant trip home - no weather delays this time! It was nice getting home by 6:00 since we both had to go to work the next day.

Some Final Thoughts

We didn't do any resort hopping this year to see the decorations - just ran out of time. So the only ones we saw were Old Key West, Boardwalk (since we went through the lobby on the way to the parking lot) and Animal Kingdom Lodge, since we had dinner there one night. Boardwalk did not have a gingerbread "village" this year - we heard that most of the others did not, either, though we did see the one at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

We didn't do too many fancy sit-down meals on this trip - just our dinner at Le Cellier, though we had other meals at Olivia's, Boma, and Bongo's. I think I could eat at Boma several nights in a row and be perfectly happy - which is probably a good thing since we're staying there in April, and I'll have that opportunity! :-)

As usual we did way too much on this trip - but I always seem to say that! Even though we hardly did any rides - only did Tower of Terror once, and never did make it on Rock N' Roller Coaster or Splash Mountain. But the attraction of WDW to us really *isn't* the's the atmosphere and the street entertainment and the things that you just run across by accident - it's hard to explain that to people, though.

Next trip is the end of April - just in time for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival again!

Thanks for reading!

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Tigger's Magical Moments
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Text and photographs copyright © 2001, 2002 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath
Last updated 1/3/02