Tuesday, December 9 - Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom
Warmer today than yesterday, though rather overcast. Our day began at the Studios, though I had a scare on the way in...I'd gone through security then pulled my AP card holder out of the pocket I keep it in, but when I opened it up, there was no pass...and it wasn't in the pocket. I started looking around, and a very nice Hispanic man pointed behind me and mentioned "la tarjeta". I knew that meant "card" or "ticket", and thanked him, and sure enough, it was lying on the ground about 20' away. Whew. I guess I hadn't gotten it back in the sleeve the night before.
*** Did you know that you *can* get your Annual Pass replaced if you lose it? I was happy NOT to have to test that process, though!
We had breakfast at the ABC Commissary - I ended up eating more of Lee's breakfast (his hashed browns) than my French Toast sticks...at Disney I end up eating more fried foods in one week than I've had in the last six months! :-) We wandered around on New York Street, and looked at the construction for the new stunt show. Seems strange not to see the big square and the Osborne Lights, though...and with the destruction of Residential Street we wonder where they are going to PUT the lights, since supposedly they *will* be back next year.
A Cast Member was handing out Fastpasses for the next Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show, so we got those and got in line for the "Making of the Haunted Mansion" exhibit. Inside the soundstage they had set up the actual set used for the ballroom scenes in Gracey Manor. They showed us a few interviews with some of the people involved in making the movie, and let us walk around a little bit, but no photography was allowed. It was a little disappointing - I can't say it made me want to see the movie.
I enjoyed the Millionaire show...at the 1000 point level I was number 6 on the board and at 32,000 I was number 1! But the contestant and I both missed the 64,000 point question...oh well. This show was shorter than many of them - they stopped it after the contestant missed the 64,000 point question rather than taking a new contestant...normally I get to see two different contestants, but I guess this guy went far enough and took long enough that they didn't want to put someone else in there and have them carry over to the next show.
*** Did you know that the traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin? I wonder if tin toys count... :-)
I rode Tower of Terror - almost no wait, which was surprising since the Studios was the "Extra Magic Hour" park that morning, and it was almost noon by then. I got a different drop sequence than I've had before, and saw the 5 ghostly figures beckoning this time. Pretty cool.
That was enough Studios for us...it has become our least favorite park of the four. There just isn't that much that interests us any more...the only thing that's very dynamic is the Animation Tour, and even with that it's only the one section where they are talking about what they are currently working on that changes.
We walked back to our room and stopped briefly to drop off some excess clothing since it had warmed up nicely - the only day the entire trip that I wore shorts for part of the day. :-) Then it was off to Epcot where we ran into JackM near Morocco and chatted briefly - he was headed over to the "Whose Line Is It Anyway" meet. I would've liked to watch that again this year, but the timing just didn't work out. After a quick lunch at the Yakitori House in Japan, one of our favorite counter service places, we started the American Vybe/Voices of Liberty marathon. :-) On days when both groups are performing, you have the opportunity to see them back to back, or with only 10-15 minutes between sets.
At this time of year both groups are performing holiday music. The members of American Vybe have changed significantly since we last saw them in March - there were a number of people we didn't recognize. Still good singers, but a little different. I didn't take any notes on Vybe's first set, but they did "White Christmas" and a more gospel-y number, and something else. Voices of Liberty came out and *also* did "White Christmas" and the audience laughed a little bit about that - I think they need to coordinate a little better, since there are at least two numbers ("Go Tell it On the Mountain" and "White Christmas") that both groups perform. Voices of Liberty began each set with "Christmas in the Air" and ended with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and included the Hanukkah medley. We also heard "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "White Christmas", "The French Chorale of Praise", and a great version of "Go Tell it on the Mountain".
American Vybe's next set began with a "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree/Jingle Bell Rock" medley, followed by "Santa Baby". They needed an audience participant for that one, and Lee was in the first row... :-) He did a great job with the little bit of choreography that was required. They finished up with a rocking version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Voices of Liberty was performing longer sets - 5 complete songs plus the brief beginning and ending songs. We heard "Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Angels We Have Heard on High" medley, "Foom Foom Foom", and a terrific "O Come All Ye Faithful" finale. The other song was something we'd never heard before, that I'm going to call "What a Happy Christmas Party". It was one of those "add something new each verse" songs like the 12 Days of Christmas, and it was very cute and amusing - much different than the sort of thing Voices of Liberty normally performs. It was nice to see something much more light-hearted and fun from them.
*** Did you know that the song "Foom, Foom, Foom" is of Spanish origin, and that "Foom, foom, foom" means "Foom, foom, foom"? :-)
After a brief rest back at our room we drove to Animal Kingdom again, though it was after 4:00 when we arrived. But we had 5:30 Priority Seating for Boma so had to be in that area anyways, and we wanted to see the tigers along the Maharajah Jungle Trek late in the day when they are actually active. We got a little bit tied up in the parade trying to get over to Asia, but eventually made it, and talked for a while to the cast member who was standing outside the Komodo Dragon's area. He was very talkative and we learned quite a lot about Komodo Dragons. :-)
*** Did you know that Komodo Dragons were first found on Komodo Island in Indonesia, though they live on some of the other islands, too? And that the saliva of a Komodo Dragon is teeming with virulent bacteria - if the initial bite doesn't kill the victim the resulting infection will in less than a week. And that they eat carrion and whatever else they can find - which just makes that bacteria count go up? And they can move surprisingly fast - up to 11 miles per hour?
After we left the Komodo Dragon and were heading towards the tapir enclosure, we heard someone behind us say "Are you Laura and Lee?" They recognized Tigger - even in his Santa hat, and are fans of his trip reports. :-) So hello, Brett and Tammy from Atlanta! They were also there to see the tigers, and we had a nice chat about tigers, the new Wishes fireworks show, the Great Race (which they had done on Sunday), and lots of other topics. After a while Lee and I had to leave since we had to get over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for our dinner at Boma. But it was really nice to meet them - Tammy, thanks for stopping us!
We had a short wait at Boma for our table - for a change they didn't
seem horribly busy. But we've mostly been going there on Saturday nights
rather than a week night...the week night really made a difference.
Dinner was delicious, as always. They had most of my favorites - the
stewed tomatoes, butternut squash soup, and melon/papaya/grapefruit
salad. They also had a new (to me) salad - jicama, spinach, apple
and something else, which was excellent. The potatoes didn't have
quite as much "afritude" this time and weren't quite as spicy -
which is actually ok with me. They had barbecue salmon, and that
was good - usually their fish dishes are covered in peppers and I
pass them by, but this one wasn't. Lee had the prime rib and he
said that was good - there were several different sauces with it
and he tried most of them and said they were good. And we both
enjoyed the "fufu" - the mashed sweet potato dish.
And of course no meal at Boma is complete without the dessert buffet...I had my usual chocolate mousse crunch and zebra domes...mmmm...I always forget how good those are! Lee also tried the bread pudding and the coconut tiramisu and enjoyed those.
After dinner we enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations around the lobby of the Lodge, and went outside to see if we could see any animals on the savannah. Unfortunately there were no animals to be seen (first time that's ever happened to us!), but we had an interesting conversation with cast member Limbo from Botswana. He told us about Ankole Cattle, and how their huge horns are actually a cooling mechanism - they have lots of blood vessels in them that help the cattle regulate their body temperature. He also talked a little bit about Botswana and the animals you find there and his work as a safari guide. I didn't realize that most of the Kalahari Desert was in Botswana (and all I knew about that was from the movie "The Gods Must be Crazy" - Limbo told us that the bushman who starred in the movie died not too long ago). He teased us a bit and asked us how many countries in Africa we could name - he said most people got about 4. We did better than that, and came up with 10 pretty quickly, but he told us that there are 53 different countries in Africa! Wow. We enjoyed talking to him.
*** Did you know that the Kalahari isn't *really* a desert, but instead
is a vast semi-arid area? It stretches from South Africa to the Congo,
and covers about 80% of Botswana.
We drove back to the Boardwalk and decided to work off a little bit of our dinner by taking a walk around Crescent Lake - it was .65 miles according to my pedometer. Up on the bridge between the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club we saw a big TV production truck - even though the Disney landscapers had tried to cleverly disguise it with some shrubbery. :-)
*** Did you know that shrubbery could be used to hide very large objects? :-)
That night about 10:20 we were both awakened by VERY loud Disney music - stuff like March of the Wooden Soldiers and Night on Bald Mountain. It sounded like it was coming from the Fantasmic Theater over at the Studios...but it wasn't the Fantasmic music and it was REALLY loud. We called the Boardwalk front desk and they didn't know anything about it, but it stopped after about 10 minutes.
Total for the day: 7.9 miles, 18,556 steps.
Woo hoo! of the day - Meeting Brett and Tammy, being #1 on the Millionaire board.
Disappointment of the day - the Studios - there seems to be less and less to do each time we visit.
Pet peeve of the day - groups of people who stand in the middle of
pathways while trying to figure out what they are going to do next.
STAND OUT OF THE WAY!!!
Epcot's Holiday Storytellers
Tigger's Christmas Carols
Holidaze with Tigger and Stitch
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.
Laura Gilbreath lgil at
lgil dot net
Last updated 12/31/03