Laura and Lee's Somewhat Live Trip Report

December 8-15, 1999
Part 5

I've realized that I'm really not going to have time to finish this if I try to do it as a trip report in progress, so I'll have to really finish this and put in all the details either on the way home, or after we get home. But here's the highlights of the last two days...

(And now I've finally gone back and filled in the details!>


Sunday, December 12 - Magic Kingdom, Studios, California Grill Dinner

We took the bus from OKW to the Magic Kingdom and actually made it into MK only about 5 minutes after it opened - amazing. It was pretty uncrowded for most of the time we were there. We really only had a few things we wanted to do here, so after a quick breakfast at the Main Street Bakery we hit the new Pooh ride twice in a row, since the line was only about 5 minutes long. It was very cute - there's some interesting effects when Pooh starts dreaming, and when the vehicles start bouncing and floating.

After the sweetness and light that is Pooh, it was time to wreak some havoc and mayhem, so we went over to Buzz Lightyear to do battle against the Evil Emperor Zurg. I beat Lee both times (he complained the first time that I won because he was on the right side instead of the left, so the second time we switched and I still beat him - by a larger margin. :-) ) The ride stopped for a short time but we were in the tunnel, so had no opportunity to wrack up points...argh. Lee wouldn't let me pass the time by spinning, either. Sigh.

We went back to Stroller Hell...um, I mean Fantasyland, and rode Peter Pan - had to wait about 15 minutes for that one. Then it was off to my favorite ride - Splash Mountain! It's one of the few rides that are common to both MK and Disneyland where I prefer the MK version of the Disneyland one. But this one has much better lighting, more characters, and a much clearer story line. Though I still prefer the "doom and gloom" song the mothers are singing in the Disneyland version as you head up to the big drop, rather than whatever they do at MK - see? I can't even remember what it is at MK! :-)

We sat in the front row and got pretty wet, but it was a nice sunny day, and it was fun. The Haunted Mansion was our next stop, and then we did some shopping and left the park.

We took the bus to the Yacht Club and had lunch at the Yacht Club Galley (this is really a nice place with interesting (and good) food selections, and it was absolutely deserted at 12:30), and then walked over to the Boardwalk Villas. They had an amazing gingerbread display - carousel, ferris wheel, plus this roller coaster - how'd you like *that* drop? :-)

We searched for the Boardwalk's Millennium Quarter machine, and asked a couple of people but couldn't find it...from there we took the boat over to the Studios.

Rock N Roller Coaster WAS running that day, so we got a Fast Pass and took the Animation Tour while we were waiting. (Posted wait on the Standby line was 60 minutes, and our Fast Pass window was also an hour away.) We always enjoy the Animation Tour, though we did NOT enjoy the couple who brought their ~18 month old son - the kid was fussy even while we were waiting for the tour to start, and dad *finally* took him out when he was disrupting the animator's talk.

We noticed some new movie clips (mostly from Tarzan) in the films, and the animator who spoke with the group for a while was actually demonstrating "betweening" rather than just drawing a character.

Gotta love this Fast Pass thing - we headed back about 10 minutes after our window opened, and were on the ride less than 10 minutes later (including the pre-show). It was really cool - finally a looping roller coaster that *doesn't* give me an instant headache! But it's a smooth ride, so that probably helps.

We headed back to Old Key West, but had to wait about 25 minutes for a bus to show up. Our driver informed us that they only run one bus at that time of day to the Studios. We usually drive, but because we'd started off our day at Magic Kingdom (and one of our rules is: Avoid the TTC!), we were relying on Disney transportation.

As usual we were running late, so we did a quick change and then headed off to California Grill for dinner. We were seated immediately, which was a surprise, since we usually have to wait for a while. Dinner was very good - we had the Salmon Flat Bread and Crispy Eggrolls as appetizers, and Lee had the Barbecue Beef Filet and I had the Goat Cheese Ravioli for appetizers.

Once again Lee was disappointed that one of his favorite desserts had disappeared - he'd been looking forward to the Chocolate-Peanut Butter souffle for months, but it's been taken off the menu. I had the Chocolate Quake (chocolate mousse cake with a piece of chocolate-hazelnut brittle on the side) and he had the cheesecake with huckleberry sauce. It was an excellent dinner.

We notice that there were three parties with window tables that left just a few minutes before the fireworks started - guess they didn't know about them. Even though we weren't at a window table we had an ok view.

After dinner we did some shopping and found not one but *three* Millennium Quarter machines at the Contemporary Resort. :-) Also found the Bellhop Mickey beanies, and then we headed back to OKW via Dixie Landings and Port Orleans to press quarters and find Mickey Bellhops, and to see their Christmas decorations, too. Then back to Old Key West again to work on this trip report a little bit before crashing.


Monday, December 13 - DVC, Epcot

We started off at the Boardwalk, and had breakfast at the Bakery there. I still think Fountainview is better, but Lee prefers the Boardwalk Bakery. We went to the DVC Sales Center, where we had an appointment with our "Vacation Advisor" to discuss adding on more points, and we decided to add on more points at Boardwalk. Now we just need to figure out how to use them before March... :-)

While we were there, we discovered that the Swan is *still* watching us...and even has Swan Spies reporting to it (see the bird on the Swan's left wing?) (If this is completely confusing, see Lee's Swan Paranoia Report from our April WDW trip. :-) )

We finally asked at Boardwalk's front desk about the elusive millennium pressed quarter machine, and discovered that it has disappeared and no one knows where it is. (Though since I got back, I've learned that it it evidently over in the ESPN Cafe).

We wandered into Epcot and saw the Voices of Liberty sing in the America Pavilion, and saw the "Holidays Around the World" presentation of Saint Nicholas in Germany. This one was quite different than the one we saw two years ago - that one talked more about who St. Nicholas was (a bishop), and this one talked about the history of the Christmas tree.

We saw a little bit of Nova Era's performance in Italy, then rushed over to Mill Vill and grabbed a quick lunch that we took over to World Showcase plaza just in time to see the beginning of the performance of Cast in Bronze. (This is the group that performs with a carillon). In honor of the holiday season they were performing Christmas music - Carol of the Bells is awesome on a carillon.

Since we were doing the Candlelight Processional package and had a 15% discount on shopping we headed to Mouse Gear to save some money :-), but along the way saw some lonely looking CMs outside the character area, and they convinced us to go in and see Tigger, because there was no one with him. I'd never actually met Tigger before, believe it or not...he was *very* bouncy, and quite a hugger, too. :-) We bounced together, and had our picture taken...and then we got Tigger to take a picture with my little Tigger. He was very cute with him...but didn't want to give him back. :-)

We finally made it into the store and did some shopping, traded a couple of pins and saw the Canadian Santa Claus before heading back to Old Key West.

I worked on this report for a while before we went back to Epcot for the evening - we had a 6:30 priority seating at Rose & Crown - the restaurant at the UK pavilion. Tapestry of Nations was going on when we got there, so we couldn't actually get *to* the restaurant for a while. Once we got there, we had to wait about 10 minutes, but then were seated.

I'm glad we tried it, but it's not someplace we're going to rush back to. We both had a chicken and vegetable stew for dinner, but there was some kind of spice in it that left a very unpleasant aftertaste, so I ended up not eating most of it (the mashed potatoes were good, though). Our server was most apologetic and offered several times to get me something else, but actually I was pretty full (the lamb and barley soup we had as an appetizer was very good, and quite filling), and besides we still had dessert coming. They were out of the dessert I really wanted, though - a chocolate spaceship earth with white chocolate mousse inside, but the chocolate guinness cake sounded pretty good...but the restaurant evidently had gotten the wrong dessert delivered because what I got was a chocolate and orange cake - and I *hate* the flavors of chocolate and orange together. The chocolate ganache in the middle and on top was good, though. Like I said, not a restaurant we're going to rush back to.

We were very late getting to the Candlelight Processional, but there were still LOTS of seats left, even in the non-reserved section. We sat in the very front row - our view was obstructed by the orchestra, but the sound was great.

James Avery was the guest narrator, and he was *wonderful* - the best narrator we have seen so far. He really read the story with passion, and he was even singing along with the choir at some points, and was obviously having a good time. He was great fun to watch. At the end he talked a little bit about his Christmas traditions, and introduced his mom, who was in the audience. It was a wonderful performance all around, and we both enjoyed it tremendously.

We didn't have too long to wait until Reflections of Earth began again, and we found a great spot - I'm not sure I should even mention where it is. :-)

We did a little shopping on the way back to Old Key West...and then I worked on this trip report. And that's it - I'm actually caught up!!!


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

Laura Gilbreath lgil@cts.com
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