Laura and Lee's Somewhat Live Trip Report

aka Laura and Lee's December Trip to Walt Disney World to see all the holiday festivities and decorations, and all the new Millennium stuff and all the new attractions that have opened since their last trip, but mostly just to have fun

December 8-15, 1999
Part 4

How do you like the new subtitle? That's the one that was winning the poll, last time I checked...

Saturday, December 11 - Animal Kingdom, Studios, RADP Meet, Epcot

We'd intended to get an earlier start this morning, but by the time we got up and uploaded part 2 of the trip report (and Lee read and replied to some of his email) it was almost 10:00 by the time we left. He blames it all on me of course, though. :-)

This trip it seems to be our fate to be surrounded by the diesel fumes of Disney buses everywhere we go - there always seems to be one ahead of us, behind us, beside us, or some combination of that. I think they're keeping us under close surveillance...hmmm, sounds like another Swan Conspiracy!

At Animal Kingdom we renewed on annual passes (they expired the day before), and decided to go for the premium APs this time. They wouldn't let us keep the old ones, though - what's up with that??? That's twice that they've taken my old one away when I wanted to keep it. Next time I renew I'm NOT bringing the old one with me.

We had breakfast at Tusker House first thing - it was late enough that they were taking the breakfast menus down and getting ready to start serving lunch. Next stop was the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see the tigers. (Those of you familiar with Animal Kingdom will realize as you read that we were not exactly methodical in touring the park on this particular day. :-) We got a lot of exercise, though!)

Three of the tigers in the main area were active (it was overcast and very comfortable, and we had front row viewing. It was just fascinating to watch them wander around, groom each other, mark territory, lay down in a majestic pose, etc. Very much like our cats at home - only of course a whole lot bigger! We really enjoyed seeing them, and took lots of pictures, before we finally relinquished our prime viewing area to someone else.

I really enjoy the Trek (and not just because of the tigers) because of all the beautiful flowers, and the way that Disney has designed the "ruins" in the jungle. The paintings are beautiful. And where else can you see the rare Lettuce Bat? :-)

We next went over to Dinoland to see "Tarzan Rocks" for the first time - this show opened after our last trip. We hadn't heard too many good reviews of it on the newsgroup, but wanted to see for ourselves. We arrived only a few minutes before the show started and had horrible seats - in the next to last row waaaaay up in the far left, all the way against the rail. (Yeah, that's what we get for getting there so late.)

We liked the show, and want to see it again with better seats. There are elements of it that I really didn't care for, but I thought the opening (before the rock band appears), the middle section with the in-line skaters, and Tarzan and Jane's aerial ballet were really interesting to watch. And the idea of the lead singer of a rock band being clean-cut with a TV anchorman sort of hair style was very amusing. Only at Disney. :-)

In keeping to our precise itinerary (NOT) we went back over to Africa and got a Fast Pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. This was our first time using a Fast Pass - for those of our readers who are not familiar with this, it's a relatively new system Disney has implemented for some of their rides - you put your park ticket (Annual Pass, in our case) in a machine, and it returns your ticket along with another ticket which has an hour's window of time on it - in the case of the Safari it was 1:05 to 2:05. You return anytime during that window, and enter a separate line which bypasses the usual line, and you generally wait less than 10 minutes to actually get on the ride. You can only have one Fast Pass at a time, though - so we couldn't have gotten a second Fast Pass for a different ride until the window on our Safari pass had begun.

We made a quick pass through the Pangani Forest Trail, and did some pin trading with a couple of CMs. (We saw many more CMs with lanyards at AK than we did at ANY other park, and traded for 13 different pins that day. The CMs seemed to be enjoying the pin trading quite a bit.) Then it was back over to Asia to see the Flights of Wonder bird show.

This is back on their old stage again - last time we were here they were building a cover for the stage, and it was in a temporary tent, which really limited the flying they could do. They've changed the show since we originally saw it not long after it opened (I was not impressed by the original story line), and the new one is a lot better, though still rather preachy. But the birds are beautiful, particularly the bald eagle, and Sluggo the Suriyama(sp?) is a lot of fun to watch as she enthusiastically demonstrates her lizard-smashing technique.

There used to be a stand in Asia that sold some very good caramel corn, and Lee was really disappointed to see that it's closed. Can't you tell?

It was our Safari Fast Pass time, so we went back to Africa again and breezed through the line - we were on a safari vehicle less then 5 minutes after we entered the line. We're certainly favorably impressed with Fast Pass!

We had a driver from Kenya - he was pretty good. There weren't as many animals as we have sometimes seen, but we did catch a glimpse of a cheetah and a lion, and there were lots of hippos. The black rhinos had been rolling in the dust, and they looked more like red rhinos. :-)

We re-crossed the park again and went back to Asia to have lunch at the Chakrandi Chicken Shop. That was the longest line we waited in all day, but the food was good. Lee had the chicken satay and rice, and I had the chicken and Asian slaw wrap (not much difference between Asian slaw and American slaw as far as I could tell. :-) )

We found a bench where we could sit and eat, and not too long after we sat down a woman sat down next to us and lit up a cigarette. We gave her some dirty looks but she was oblivious. Some people are SO inconsiderate. We ate rather more quickly than we had planned, and started to make our way out of the park, though we stopped a couple more times to trade some pins with CMs.

We'd intended to have a couple hours back at Old Key West before we needed to head over to the Studios for the RADP meet, but all we had time for was to drop our stuff off, grab what we needed for the evening, and get back in the car and drive over to the Studios. Maybe one of these days we'll get the hang of this "relaxing while on vacation" thing, but we're having a hard time with it. :-)

On our drive over to the Studios we were surrounded by Disney buses again, but we survived the fumes. As always in the afternoons, they sent us *way* far out into the parking lot instead of letting us fill in some of the closer stuff. We noticed that they have changed the parking lot sections - now they are Television, Stage, Film, and Music.

Once we got into the park we went straight back to the Backlot Theatre for the RADP meet. There were a number of people there already - Bruce and Marta Metcalf, Dave Marx (who gave us an autographed Passporter - thanks, Dave!), Bill Hamilton, Randy Berbaum, Kenny Cottrell, Kevin Scharf, Brian, Katie, Jeff and Susan Spencer, Bill, Diane and Julia Rose Abrams (at 9 weeks, I think Julia Rose may be the youngest RADP Meet attendee!), and Lee and me.

From left to right:
Katie, Kevin, Bill H., Marta, Lee, Brian, Kenny, Jeff, Susan,
Julia Rose, Bill A., Randy, Diane, Dave, and Bruce

After our group photo we crowned our own King of Fools, Randy (note the position of his crown, since it is, after all, Topsy Turvy Day :-) ), and went in to watch the show.

I've never seen it at night before, but the lighting was much more effective after dark.

Here's some additional meet photos:

From outside the theatre we saw the lighting of the Osborne Lights, then stood around chatting waiting for the crowds to dissipate a bit so that we could avoid feeling like we were in a cattle car. A number of people had to leave, so as it ended up only Kevin, Bruce, Marta, Dave, Kenny, Randy, Lee and I went through the streets. It was a beautifully excessive display - and we all looked cool in our angel glasses, don't you think?

We said goodbye to almost everyone, and Kenny, Lee and I decided to go over to Epcot to have a quick dinner at Mill Vill and watch Reflections of Earth - we figured Kenny should know a really good place to watch it. :-)

As it turned out, Kenny made guinea pigs out of us, and we watched it from a place he hadn't yet seen it from - Morocco. That turned out to be a very good spot, especially since we only walked up to it about 5 minutes before the show started. The lady standing next to us was enjoying Kenny's running commentary about the show. :-)

We said goodbye to Kenny after the show, and went to Beaches and Cream to make good on the statement we'd made to the guard at the Beach Club gate when we parked that we were having dessert there. :-)

Once we returned to Old Key West we decided that we needed to make a list of what we *really* wanted to do for the remainder of our trip - we still don't know how we're going to try and fit most of that in, but we'll try.

One good thing - at least the noisy kid next door is gone!

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Part 1
Part 2
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Text and photographs copyright © 1999, 2000 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath
Last updated 1/11/00