In June 1999, I'd attended my first RADP (rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup) meet- the meet to see Tarzan the day it came out. It was such a positive experience that I started to think seriously at attending the big Dec. meet. I'd been in WDW for parts of the Dec. 1998 meet, however I did not attend any events because 1) I didn't know as many people on the group back then (even though I've been reading RADP since at least 1996) and more importantly 2) none of the events fit in with the plans for a very limited visit.
Things were going very smoothly for my plans to attend the 12/99 meet- I became a CM at The Disney Store near me so I could be a part of the magic, and I was told that I should be able to get a few days off in Dec, as long as I didn't want a whole week. I submitted my plans in all my paperwork before I was hired. However, once I submitted my formal request, I was given an ultimatum: choose between Disney World or my job.
The quick version of the story is that after weeks of being miserable and flip flopping in my decision, I decided the meet was more important to me. I did not quit my job *just* to go to WDW- there were other issues involved; however it is true that if I hadn't been forced to make a decision, I would have stayed. The fact that I'd had to give up my CM status for my trip probably made me even more determined to enjoy it to its fullest.
But my job was not the only issue with my pre-trip plans- I had hotel issues as well. After totally loving the Contemporary Tower in June, it was natural to want to stay there this time as well- however, once I quit my job I'd increased my trip to 6 nights and it wasn't practical to stay there all 6 nights. I luckily had no problems booking the last 3 nights of my trip at the Tower, magic kingdom rate to boot. But the first 3 nights were more problematic- I wanted to stay at Wilderness Lodge but it wasn't available. About the only thing available for all 3 nights was All Star Sports (I also had a Magic Kingdom rate there). Being as I am not a huge fan of sports and giant football fields would not be enticing to me, I kept trying for Wilderness Lodge. I was able to make 3 separate reservations online, 2 of them at Magic Kingdom rate (when I tried to phone, they didn't have the Magic Kingdom rate). They were also different room types (1st and 3rd nights were at Woodsview; 2nd night was the more expensive Courtyard view), but at least I'd get to stay there.
Then came the day when I noticed one of my deposits was refunded on my VISA card. Seems somehow that ressie had been cancelled and I have yet to find a real reason for it. After a long day of phone calls, it was reinstated. I called the hotel 3 days before my trip to verify that the ressies were still intact and was delighted that they told me I was blocked into a Courtyard room for my entire stay so I wouldn't have to move.
And now for the main feature: Faith's Dec 99 RADP meet Trip Report!
Starring. . . Faith, a 20-something
solo traveler and veteran WDW visitor
Featuring- a huge supporting cast of wonderful Disney loving RADP'ers- old friends, new friends, and people I never really got a chance to meet.
*Disclaimer*-- unlike my usual custom, I did not take any notes until the very end of my trip, so I apologize in advance for getting any details like chronology wrong. (what a time not to take notes- when there are RADPers who were there and who can easily see I am mistaken!) Also, I am awful with names and apologize for any names I forgot or get wrong. It's no reflection on what I thought of you!
Also be forewarned that I write the long, detailed variety of TR. ;)
I am not generally good at getting myself to sleep early and awakening early. However, I had a long day ahead of me so somehow I managed to sneak a few hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 4am. Knowing that I am going to WDW was enough of an incentive to get out of bed and make my final preparations before driving off to the airport with visions of RADP meets dancing in my head. The 6:30am flight was uneventful (except for the snack that was so unappealing to me- even though I hadn't eaten- that I gave it back) and I even managed to catch a little sleep. We arrived on time, just before 9am.
I always look forward to the monorail ride in the Orlando terminal- it generally starts getting me to believe that I really am almost at WDW. However, this time I was disappointed that I could not hear the narration at all for some reason. I was also thrown for a loop that the location to get the Mears bus had totally moved. But soon enough I was at Wilderness Lodge, with the only stop before mine being at the Beach Club where I'd stayed last December.
I went to check in, confident that I'd been promised that I was already set up to be in the same room for my entire stay. Well, something happened with that, but eventually CM Kelly was able to work it all out for me. I'd have to stop by the desk for a new key every day, but I'd get to stay in the same Courtyard view room all 3 nights. She gave me a few choices of locations, but I didn't care so much as long as I didn't have to pack up each day. She also told me I'd have a room with 1 queen and a set of bunk beds which I thought would be amusing.
Though I was most excited about Epcot (millenium stuff) and MGM (Rock n Roller Coaster), I decided I wanted to try the boat from WL to Magic Kingdom. I exchanged the voucher I got for a real Annual Pass and crossed the gates before I happened to check the back of the AP. Good thing I did- it had an expiration date of August printed on it! I don't plan on being in WDW between August and December of 2000, but I still didn't want to be cheated out of the option. I stopped at City Hall and they eventually fixed it for me and issued me a new pass.
After my small detour, I was excited to walk up Main Street again, as MK has the most nostalgia value or me of any of the parks. I decided to go on my favorite MK ride, Splash Mountain. I was thrown for a loop when I saw the queue entrance was moved. (to near where the exit is) And that day, everyone had to enter under the "fastpass" sign which was also a bit confusing especially since fastpass was not in use. The wait was none to minimal and after the final drop, I *really* felt I'd arrived at WDW. Woooo hooo!
I was still in shopaholic mode from back home, so I decided to wander around Downtown Disney. I thought I was being so smart by walking to the Contemporary to get a bus there- until I realized, halfway there, that there is no direct bus service til 4pm. D'oh! At least I got to visit my favorite hotel briefly, though I ended up still having to use the TTC to get my bus.
I enjoyed walking around DtD though I didn't buy anything. At 1pm, I finally had something to eat- I went to McDonald's so I could get a Toy Story Happy Meal. I love the little toys in Happy Meals and they are about the right amount of food for me but I usually don't eat at McD's at home. Finally, it was time to head to MGM- I took a bus to Caribbean Beach Resort since the TTC is way out of the way (and evil <g>). I would have enjoyed soaking up some CBR atmosphere but there was a MGM bus right behind mine, so I hopped on that.
It was 2:30pm when I got to MGM- the tip board said there was a 2:35pm Little Mermaid show so I rushed over to enjoy another of my favorite attractions. When I was done, I zipped over to the 3pm Beauty and the Beast stage show and managed to get a decent seat since I was solo- I was about 10 rows back, somewhat on the side. I didn't really like this cast for some reason- and I don't remember ever actively disliking the cast of a WDW show.
When the show got out, I still at some time to kill before I was supposed to meet Rob and some other people at Rock n Roller Coaster. I toyed with the idea of riding it once solo, but decided I'd rather wait til the group, so I wouldn't be able to chicken out. So I did Tower of Terror. It was practically a walk on, so I was able to do it twice.
At about 4, I started looking for the people to meet, realizing that if Rob mentioned a specific spot near the entrance, I did not pay attention. Finally, I spotted a crew of RADPers though I felt left out without my pin. There was much general chatting before someone took group pix of us from about 12 different cameras- I was lucky enough to get a picture that included a couple crossing in front of us (but they'd taken 2 with each camera so I also have a good one). It is amusing seeing everyone's faces in that one. ;)
Almost as soon as we got in line, the coaster went down and everyone dispersed. I was feeling quite tired and moody at this time, so I decided to just go back to my hotel. I never did say hi to Rob because I was too shy. However, I did chat with Pamela, who I'd already met at Tarzan and I finally got to meet her Sean! Yay! They are an adorable couple. I also think I spoke to Kathy Kula and I got to meet Mr. Sockpuppet too. I didn't really talk to many people, though.
Back at WL, I called for my bags and they promptly came to my room to join me. After unpacking a tiny bit, I just collapsed into bed and didn't even bother setting an alarm- which was silly considering that I had Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tix for that night. However, I was hugely disappointed in not getting to ride RnRC (which I'd been looking forward to for ages) and was just generally in a cranky mood.
I somehow managed to wake up in time to arrive at MVMCP slightly before 8pm. I felt better, and the nap was definitely a good idea. I rode Space Mountain and the line was short enough that I could catch the 8:15 Mickey's Twas the Night Before Xmas show, which was one of my favorites last yr. Food was definitely something I could use, so I had some pizza at the Plaza Pavilion. I battled the parade crowds and headed over to Frontierland to continue my mountain tour. I rode Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain, both with minimal waits- I can't remember which order I rode them in, but I do remember that I could see and hear the early Xmas parade go by while I was on Splash.
It was then about time to head over to the 9:45pm RADP meet at Liberty Square. I met a bunch of RADP'ers there- one of the highlights was being able to purchase a gold RADP pin from Judy Shaw. Yay, I finally fit in! I also remember talking to Amy (Improvgal), Kathy Kula and Tara. I think I also met Jan (Praline) and I definitely met some people whose names I forget. I was still pretty shy about meeting people at this point.
After enjoying the 10pm fireworks, I headed over to the 10:05 Miss Minnie's Country Christmas show at the Diamond Horseshoe Revue. It was SRO but I was able to get a decent standing place. I may have missed the very beginning of the show but I saw most of it. It was cute, but not something I'd rush to see again.
At about 10:30, I decided to snag a good curbside seat for the 11:30 parade. I normally don't watch parades from Main St, but I like how they do fake snow there for the MVMCP parades. The parade was as fun as I remembered- I think it was basically the same except they'd added some references to Toy Story 2 on one of the floats.
Walking up Main Street, I heard someone calling my name. And since I have a rare name, I took notice. It was Kathy Kula and Tara! They were headed to Buzz Lightyear and graciously invited me to join them. I'd been feeling a little lonely, even with the meets, and I was thrilled to have people to talk to!
My credibility was totally blown when, after insisting that I sucked at Buzz Lightyear, I ended up with 350,000 and the high score. Part of that was due to being stuck on the ride for a very short time, but I am so bad that I am shocked that helped me at all. So maybe someone was on target when he posted that I have zero credibility. ;)
We'd toyed with going on the Pooh ride but it had a really long line. So we ended up on Splash Mountain which had no wait of any consequence. I would have bought that picture except I managed to block my own face with the way I'd raised my arms in the air. Too bad. :( At some point, I parted ways with Kathy and Tara and managed to make it home to my hotel.
I never did get my free family portrait taken at MVMCP- since it was only me, I thought it would be hokey. I also never took advantage of the free hot chocolate and cookies. The weather was so much more pleasant than last year, so I didn't feel any real need for hot chocolate. I hear that the MVMCP last night was sold out, yet crowds seemed less problematic than last year when I was there. Curious. At any rate, it was a festive and fun way to start my WDW vacation!
Most magical moment of the day: riding
Buzz with Kathy and Tara and getting such a high score
Least magical moment of the day: RnRC breaking down.
I had all the best of intentions of waking up at 9am, really I did. But I hadn't paid attention to the am/pm feature on my alarm clock, assuming it was currently set on am and I only had to advance it an hr or so. Oops. But I guess it was a blessing in disguise, as I really needed the rest. At any event, when I opened my eyes and it was 10:22, I jetted out of bed and started getting ready.
After taking a shower, I stopped by the front desk to check out and back into my room. Someone who looked like a manager was down there talking to people. He didn't say a word to me and I was a tad offended. Granted, I look young for my age and my Tokyo DL Mickey Mouse T-shirt and wet hair didn't help things. But I still was a bit resentful, since he seemed to talk to nearly everyone else around me in line, while he did not even acknowledge my presence.
By the time I was done with the front desk and ate some cereal, it was too late to really do anything substantial before the 1pm meet. So I used my trusty laptop to go online and email my friends and tell them that I needed to kill some time. :)
At 12:45 or maybe earlier, I set off to take the Crockett bus from WL to the TTC for the big meet. And wow, what a big meet it was. There were tons of people there, and I barely knew any of them. It was slightly intimidating. Again, I felt left out without wearing something with my name on it. At first, I hung around with people I'd met- such as Kathy and Pamela. But then I got brave and said hi to some people when I saw their name tags- I know I got to talking to Tirya that way, though I am not sure how I ended up talking to Denise (TDC Fauna) and her sister.
Most of the people I know are in the Loin Inspection Board (if you do not read RADP and do not know what that is, don't ask <G>) but I am not, so I stood back while they did their things and smiled. I saw a lot of people I recognized but didn't really say much to them. (the people I did talk to can attest that once I start talking, I can indeed be chatty <g>) I was so touched that Sean and Pamela had gotten me a present and I felt bad for not having anything for them in return. Next time! I think Amy was handing out little Rhode Island pins and someone was handing out Disney buttons on behalf of Deb Wills (who I saw, but never introduced myself to; later I found out she wasn't feeling well so it was just as well) I happily exchanged 5 of the 7 attraction minis I'd brought with me (I'd found them cheap at the character warehouse near me and I agreed to buy them for 2 people) for a DL Haunted Mansion CD and some money from Mark.
Oh, yeah- at some point we all had to organize ourselves for a group photo. That was interesting. The photographer had to climb a ladder quite a ways back to get us all in the picture.
I'd planned to stop off at my room after the meet, but I was keeping my options flexible- with the thought of trying to enjoy the company of others while I could. So when I finally got the nerve to introduce myself to R°o°b (Apprentice to Sorcerer Mickey) on his way to the monorail and he or someone with him invited me to join the group, I figured "why not?" and hopped along. I knew I would have kicked myself for not saying "hi" and that was my last chance- I am very glad I did.
We ended up taking the Monorail to the Contemporary. We had a very fun conversation on the monorail. ;) I definitely did not mind visiting the Contemporary. <G> After R°o°b dropped some stuff off in his room, a bunch of us went down to the pool area to grab some food. Actually, I decided I was not really hungry and didn't eat anything myself- and I was quite glad no one made an issue out of it. As I recall, the group of us at the pool included R°o°b, Keith, Klein (apologies if I misspelled this!), Thea and Mark. Tirya had been on the monorail with us, but had parted ways when we reached the hotel, though we did see her walk by as we sat by the pool.
After a nice leisurely time at the Contemporary, we walked to the MK. On the way, I spotted a really cute butterfly house that was shaped like the Tower- I didn't see it in June and it was quite cute. I was still carrying a bunch of stuff, including the mug, and thought I'd get a locker. However, when I saw the price was $5 plus $2 deposit, I decided against that plan and just asked a CM for a plastic bag to carry stuff in. I figured I wouldn't be spending all that much time at MK so it would be a total waste of money to get a locker. I'd originally planned to be at MK that night to see the Main Street Electric Parade, but I was pleased to note that it would be offered on Sun and Wed as well, and both of those were sure to be less crowded.
R°o°b had planned to meet his parents at Splash Mountain at 4pm, so we headed over there. Various other relatives of his decided not to ride. The posted wait was some ridiculous number but it didn't look so bad so we got in line (Fastpass was again not in use). I was excited to be able to ride with another Splash Mountain enthusiast! While in line, we counted and discovered there were 8 of us. Perfect! We were exactly one log. The wait was indeed shorter than it said (20-30 mins; I think 40 mins had been posted) It was R°o°b and Keith in the front, then R°o°b's parents, then me and Mark and Thea and Klein in the back. The ride was indeed a lot of fun, and this time I bought the photo. I felt bad that I'd blocked Thea's face though- but at least I had not blocked my own.
Here is one place where my memory of chronology might be off for a few hrs of time. Oooops!
I think that Mark and Thea left us soon after Splash Mountain because they had a priority seating at the Flying Fish Café at the Boardwalk Resort. R°o°b had priority seating for his family at Liberty Tree tavern, so I was planning to go my own way, possibly hitting Fantasmic. I *think* we tried to go to Haunted Mansion but it took a long time to get everyone together and it was almost time for the priority seating. Maryan met up with R°o°b at the restaurant. At any rate, one thing led to another and I ended up being invited to join dinner (after asking several times "Are you sure?" <g>)
I'd never thought of eating at Liberty Tree before, since I usually go for slightly more exotic- though not *too* exotic- food. But I figured it was sure to be good company and it would fill my need for a character meal during my trip. Well, it turned out to be totally wonderful! I am a picky eater, but I loved the food- iirc, I enjoyed the bread as well as Turkey, Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese and especially the cornbread stuffing. It was all served family style, and you could have all you wanted. Yummmm! And the character interaction of course was fun- we saw Chip, Dale, Pluto, Goofy and Minnie, all dressed in Colonial outfits. Eventually, I decided to take out my camera and get some pix with the gang. I thanked R°o°b very much when we were done.
We did make it to the Haunted Mansion after dinner, though I think we detoured to shop for a sweatshirt for Keith. We had to linger for awhile in the area after the preshow as the party got split up somehow. It was interesting to pay more attention to that area. I got a big kick out of seeing how R°o°b's parents enjoyed the rides- it's always refreshing to see the reactions of people who have not been on the ride a million times. I remember thinking that this was one reason why WDW is so special- there are so many attractions that a whole family can enjoy together (whereas there was not a single ride at IOA that I would have brought my mother on).
Next on the agenda was the 8pm Main Street Electrical Parade, but first Keith needed an aspirin so we headed to First Aid, located near the Crystal Palace. While we were waiting, the parade was already passing by. We could hear the music was a Christmas-y remix of the Baroque Hoedown (its normal music)- cool! We managed to beat the parade to Frontierland, and we watched it from there.
We wanted to see the 9pm fireworks but were unable to get to the Hub from Frontierland in time to see Tinker Bell. After the fireworks, R°o°b wanted his parents to come to the Winnie the Pooh ride, but they were tired so they left the park with Maryan. So it was just Keith, R°o°b and I braving the 20-30 minute wait to ride Pooh. I remember blabbing about theatre, specifically Disney Theatrical Productions, while we were in line ;) It was only my second time on the ride and it's a cute ride but not something I'd have to do every time. The honey smell on the way out was practically nauseating- I had not noticed that in June.
Keith decided to go back to the hotel after Pooh but R°o°b was determined to stay til they kicked him out. I was totally hyper, as I often am at WDW, and was game for anything. I think R°o°b asked me if there was anything I wanted to do, and I pointed us to Space Mountain, which had a minimal wait. Lots of laughs and smiles there! R°o°b still had not ridden Big Thunder Mountain this trip, so I was determined we would do that next. Unfortunately, we were blocked by the parade (we should have gone through Fantasyland and Liberty Square; at least we would have been on the correct side) though we'd tried to beat it. But eventually we made it there and didn't have much of a wait. I love riding it at night! I'd just about convinced R°o°b to go on Splash Mountain since he'd never experienced it at night, when they shut the line right before we got there.
But closing the rides was not enough to get us out of the MK, oh no! It was shopping time! We started out in The Briar Patch aka House of Pooh with a corner devoted to Splash Mountain. Sigh Next we headed to Main Street where R°o°b saw a cool millenium watch in an even cooler globe shaped case. I told him to buy it but he didn't. We then headed to the Emporium and well, let's just say that by the time we got out, Main Street was empty-- really cool, but also a bit freaky. At some point, we heard a closing announcement that neither of us had heard before.
It was totally fun walking around MK with R°o°b- I felt so at ease that it was like we'd known each other for years. In reality, we've been emailing for several months but probably not even a year. It's definitely fun to do Disney with someone who seems to be even *more* excited about it than you are! I was so glad I'd finally worked up the nerve to say "hi" to him, and was very appreciative of the way he included me in his plans without making me feel like the odd one out.
When I went to catch the boat back to Wilderness Lodge, I saw that it was closed already. So I had to take a monorail to the (evil) TTC and transfer to a Boone bus there- so much for staying at WL for its convenient access to MK! ;) R°o°b got off the monorail at Contemporary while I stayed on. We were held for quite awhile between the Contemporary and the TTC. At one point, the elderly couple in the car with me asked me about having my picture on my sweatshirt. I was flattered, as the sweatshirt is really of Belle (who of course is supposed to be the most beautiful young woman in her town).
While on the monorail, I realized I only had $20 bills and I was dying for a soda. So I figured I'd stop at the front desk and get change. I stood at the line for the front desk for awhile and saw no one. None of the people cleaning up the place said anything to me. After it seemed pointless, I tried to head to Roaring Forks, the snack bar area. Not surprisingly, it was closed. I missed the Contemporary with its 24 hr access to being able to refill one's refillable mug. I went back to the desk, waited a little more, then decided to just head to my room. Once up there, I called the front desk. The first time no one picked up, so I called again. Well, the CM smugly told me that if one walked all the way up to the front desk, an alarm would sound to get them out front. Well, whoop dee doo- how was I supposed to know that?! And for my $225 that night, the only way to get change would have been to go all the way *back* to the front desk. I was exhausted by that point. I told the front desk agent that he made my future hotel choice easier, and drank the little warm soda I found that I still had in a bottle on the desk. You'd think that maybe they'd offer to send me up a soda- I would have gladly paid double for it to be charged to my room. But maybe that is expecting too much. Still, if this was the worst thing to happen to me that day, I knew I was blessed with wonderful fortune.
Most magical moment of the day: being two of the last
people on Main St, USA
Least magical moment of the day: wanting a soda terribly at WL and not being able to get one
My goal for the morning was to make the 9:30 am Splash Mountain meet at MK. I set my alarm correctly *and* set a wakeup call. I was doing very well until I *just* missed a boat to MK. I'd also just missed the boat to the Contemporary (with continuing service to Fort Wilderness iirc) but that one came back sooner so I hopped abroad and then walked to MK. Very quickly. Like the night before, I thought "so much for convenient access to the MK!" ;) I somehow made it to Splash Mountain as everyone was assembling- I was quite out of breath and must have been a site to behold! I finally got to say "hi" to Paragon and Ronnie. Someone, I can't recall for sure who, was quite surprised when I said that yes, I was at the big meet the previous day. In time to take the picture. Really. I really am a tiny dot on that photo- if you squint, you can kinda make out my face.
After another episode of getting a group picture taken with multiple cameras, we got in line. And as soon as we got to the front, the ride started experiencing technical difficulties. Here we go again! But nothing would get our spirits down as Pope Buck and Virgo10 led us all in Xmas carols. By the time we got to the 6th day of the 12 days of Christmas, the ride was operational. It had to be self defense on the ride's part. ;)
I got to ride in a log with Ronnie, Paragon, Pope Buck and Virgo 10. I think we ended up being in 3 separate logs. I was the only brave soul to ride in the front seat and I was indeed rewarded by getting quite wet. I bought the picture again- and this time, I wasn't blocking *any* faces! :) (it helped that the 2nd row was empty) At the exit to the ride, we met Sean and Pamela who hadn't quite made it. There was talk of a lot of people going on Big Thunder Mountain and I asked them to wait while I got my photo (which I had them send to the Contemporary where I'd be checking in the next day) but when I got out, no one was around.
So I headed over to the Diamond Horseshoe Revue meet, where some RADP'ers were already gathered. Someone said we should spread out and try and hold all the front tables. So I did. And it seemed no one wanted to sit near me for quite awhile. But then Pamela and Sean got there and sat across the way. Yay! I need to say again what a cute couple they are.
I'd never done the show before, and that was one reason I wanted to try it. It was fun, but really not something I'd want to make a "must see" on every trip. One of the cutest parts was when the announcer woman was announcing the wrong act and she corrected herself saying "senior moment"- which is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in our family. ;)
The show was over at about 11:30 and R°o°b had told me that if he didn't make the Splash Mountain meet (which he'd hoped to attend while his parents were at church), he'd be meeting people at noon at Fountainview Café at Epcot. When I told Pamela and Sean where I was heading, they joined me- Mark joined us as well but I can't remember for sure if he took the monorail with us or if we saw him there.
R°o°b and his people were there eating and I was quite hungry so I had some pizza- shaped like Mickey's head. Very cute. I'd had pizza in that shape at Disneyland Paris before. Oh, I also *finally* had the soda I'd been craving since the night before. ;) When we were done eating, R°o°b's parents still weren't there but we decided to go on a ride and check back.
So we headed to the new, revamped Journey into Your Imagination. My thoughts on the walk over there were mainly "It is so orange" (it's also turquoise but it was the orange that got me) The ride was a walk on which was good, because it is not worth a long wait. I must confess that I was never a fan of the original ride. I thought the new ride was worse- though it wasn't quite as dreadful as I'd expected. The premise, for those of you who don't know, is that your mind is scanned for imagination and there is nothing going on. Then, after a series of rather lame experiences, you are scanned again and somehow your imagination is stimulated. Well, anyone who knows me well can tell you that I have a right to be insulted upon being told I have no imagination. ;) But even aside from that, I didn't find the ride to be stimulating in the least for my imagination. It's the kind of ride that would be nice on a hot summer day- just to get in the A/C for awhile.
went back to check on
We also enjoyed the Sweden exhibit where we walked up some stairs and entered an area which highlighted the 4 seasons. That doesn't sound so fun on paper, but trust me, it was cooler in person. Then we decided to try to controversial Israel ride. Pamela and Sean had tried to ride it before, but it had gone down. The preshow had a tour guide showing Israel to us and then this ancient David figure (presumably King David?) telling us that she hadn't shown us the real Israel.
Then we were led into the main theatre which consisted of a huge screen and lots of small vehicles that could simulate motion that coordinated with what you were seeing. (there was also an option for stationary seats) I've enjoyed similar rides of this nature at Disney World and figured this would be fun too. However, I spent much of the ride closing my eyes and feeling rather queasy. I think it had something to do with being all the way in the front and all the way on the side. The motion was also gratuitous- with us following a book flying around, for example. It didn't add much to the story which was a very basic description of how Jerusalem is significant to three different religions. I thought the content was very fair, especially considering it was paid for by the Israeli government. But I didn't think it was anything more than a mediocre attraction. I am sure my queasiness influenced my opinion, but I was very disappointed. BTW, a couple of other people in our group said they'd felt a bit queasy but I am not sure if they were just trying to make me feel like less of a wuss. ;) But I'd *never* felt that sick on a motion simulator, even during the brief period of time in my life when they bothered me.
After showing us the huuuuge bathrooms at the pavilion, Sean and Pamela headed over to Magic Kingdom with Mark to experience MSEP. R°o°b's parents *still* weren't there so we decided to try our luck with the Test Track singles line. I find Test Track to be fun, especially the outdoor speed lap.
I really wanted to do the 4pm Tapestry of Nations so I convinced R°o°b and Keith to do that. On the way we met Thea, who chewed R°o°b out for forgetting to meet her at 3 (or was it 3:30?) Ooops. She led us to the German pavilion which she said was a good place to see it because you get the beginning of one parade and the end of another. We easily grabbed a bench, as it wasn't crowded.
The parade started and WOW! I was just amazed. I loved the chanting music, the rhythms of the drums and the huge colorful puppets. I especially enjoyed how the puppets interacted with the audience- hugging them, putting their hands where you can shake them, etc. I also loved the Sage of Time's speeches which gave the theme of a hopeful future. This parade was amazing and I feel totally inadequate at finding words that do it justice. It really succeeded at creating a mood that was festive and optimistic, and which painted such a lovely picture of the new millenium which is dawning. It was so easy to be caught up in it. I hadn't expected to totally fall in love with this parade. Both R°o°b and I agreed that we wanted to see the 6:10 parade that runs in the dark. I also started thinking of trying to fit in the parade on other days before I left to go home. I don't recall ever going out of my way to see a parade at WDW more than once during my stay. (though I have sometimes ended up seeing parades or fragments of them more than once, just because I happened to be nearby).
We headed over to the American Adventure which R°o°b had never seen. Thea and I told him it was a wonderful must-see. Unfortunately, during the latter part of the show, the soda I'd drunk before Tapestry was getting to me. Right before the end of the show, I couldn't take it any more and I left to go to the restroom. I felt awful- and was rather embarrassed when the crowds waiting to get in thought the show was over because I'd opened a door. Ooops. But good thing I didn't wait as by the time I got out, the line was huge!
We next went to Spaceship Earth which is one of R°o°b's favorites. And pretty soon it was time to head back to Germany for the 6:10 pm Tapestry. It was even more wonderful illuminated in the dark, if that is possible. I decided I had to get the CD. And I couldn't wait to order it from Amazon even if that was cheaper than buying it at the parks. I think I even started to cry a little during the parade- it was *that* beautiful.
After the parade, we somehow ran into R°o°b's family around World Showcase. R°o°b quizzed his parents on what rides they'd been on, and noticed they hadn't been on Spaceship Earth so he decided that needed correcting. When I asked about whether he should check in at Rose and Crown since he wanted outdoor seating, he just replied gleefully "I'm taking my momma on Spaceship Earth!" It was hard not to join in his excitement so I went along while Thea went to the AT&T exhibits, iirc.
R°o°b had an 8pm priority seating at Rose and Crown and once again, he most graciously invited me to join. Even with me and Maryan and Mark who met up with us, we were still 1 short of the number of the reservation. We explained to the person at the podium that we *really* wanted outdoor seating for the sake of R°o°b's parents and sure enough we got it. Woo hoo! We were split into 3 tables which was fine. In fact, I was at a table where the conversation shifted to figure skating for a little while, and I quite enjoyed that. :)
I tried the Fish and Chips for dinner, which was just ok. Dessert, however, was marvelous. I got the millenium dessert which was a chocolate Spaceship Earth (with the right texture and everything) filled with a white chocolate mousse. I was sorry I didn't have any film left, but Thea took a picture of mine. It was both adorable and yummy- an ideal dessert (and I am very picky about my desserts!)
Then illuminations started at 9:30- wow! We were so close that I could feel some of the fireworks going off. It was the best and most comfortable view I'd had of the show. This was a new illuminations show for the millenium celebration and I quite enjoyed it. I still think my favorite was the very first illuminations, but this one is great.
Once again, we stayed past park closing to shop. However, I resisted the urge to spend, preferring to wait until Tuesday when I'd have 15% off in conjunction with my Candlelight Processional package. Though I spent my time picking out what I wanted to buy then. <g> R°o°b finally bought the watch he'd admired at MK the night before, and it was the last one there.
The park was almost empty by the time we were done shopping. R°o°b wanted to show his parents Wilderness Lodge so we all waited for my bus. As soon as we got to the bus stop, a bus with "MGM" on its marquee stopped for us, and then it stopped for a couple of people who were really going to MGM to pick up their car; the bus literally took them right to the car!
Once we got to WL, I played tour guide the best I could and showed off the holiday decorations, the outside waterfall/ pool area and even my room (which I hadn't had a chance to clean up- eek!) It's a really gorgeous hotel especially at the holidays. My courtyard view was nice- I loved the sound of the waterfall. However, I think I would have preferred the privacy of a Woods view (facing the MK side and away from the construction that was going on) even though Courtyard is considered the best (well, it is the most expensive at any rate!)
I walked R°o°b, Keith, and R°o°b's parents back to the bus stop and I said my goodbyes as the Crockett bus pulled up all too soon. They were heading to Animal Kingdom the next day and it just wouldn't fit into my plans. I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent with R°o°b's family- sure, a lot of it was a slower pace than I could do on my own. But the company was wonderful! I knew I'd really miss them.
Most magical moment of the day: Tapestry of Nations!
Least magical moment of the day: feeling queasy on the Israel ride
Somehow, I managed to wake myself up at 6am- I think I must have gone to sleep right away the night before! I needed to get up early because I was switching hotels and I wanted to do it before an 8am meet.
Of course, that early in the morning the boat to the Contemporary wasn't running so I had to take a Crockett bus to the TTC and the monorail the looong way around to the Contemporary. I hand carried my computer and a small backpack full of other things while my big suitcase was being handled by the resorts. At check in, I was able to snag a Magic Kingdom view room- woo hoo! I would have been severely disappointed if I had gotten the other view and I'd even joked about claiming R°o°b's room as a squatter once he checked out that day. ;) Of course, it wasn't ready yet so I put my bags in storage, silently praying that I'd see them again sooner than the time it took in June for my bags to be delivered.
I got to the TTC at just about 8, the appointed time for the meet to do Iago and Zazu live. However, I was told the group was already on a monorail! Not to fear, Ping bravely came and rescued me since she recognized me as one of them. The bunch of us headed over to MK and to Adventureland where, after a brief rap by Iago and Zazu, we ate breakfast at a buffet.
I can't remember all the people at my table, but they included Jennifer and Dave (who do the passporter guide book), Improvgal/Amy and Rob Seere (not sure of the last name- oops- but he is the one with the TDC title about enforcing movement to the end of the row). Someone thought I was the person who never ate anything in my trip reports, but that's Susan aka wdw1972. : ) I am just not a big breakfast person, though I did have a piece of the Tonga toast (which normally has bananas in it- but since I don't like bananas, I was thrilled with it as is) and some bacon. I also took a bagel but was too full to eat much if any of it.
For those of you reading this TR who have no idea what Iago and Zazu live is (that would be family and friends of mine who don't read RADP; if you read RADP you have no excuse), I am not sure how to explain it. ;) Basically, there are these two really cool people who assume personas of Disney birds as they review attractions on RADP and on a webpage; Ronnie plays the smart alec Iago (from Aladdin) and Bruce is the more mild mannered, almost stuffy Zazu (from the Lion King) I have no clue how it started but it is good fun in print and even more fun live. It also manages to be informative. At the breakfast, they reviewed the attraction of the year, which is of course the Enchanted Tiki Room.
After the show, we all headed over to The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. I actually managed to stay awake this time- woo hoo! I think it was more fun after our brief but fun lesson on the history of the attraction. But I still don't love it. ;)
I finally remembered to pick up my photo of the group meet afterwards, and I headed straight to the camera shop (thereby missing out on meeting Mickey Mom, from what I've been told sigh ) I bumped into Patti Aleventi and her husband there. It seemed they were headed to MGM which was exactly where I was headed! At this point in the trip, I was bold enough to ask if I could join them, because I really didn't want to ride Rock N Roller Coaster alone my first time. They graciously allowed me to join them, and I was fine with stopping off at All Star Music on the way.
I was really nervous about riding the first time, but being with other people calmed me down and forced me not to chicken out. We were all the way in the back of the car. I held on for dear life, but I came off with a smile on my face! It hadn't been very scary at all, but I'd missed some stuff because I'd been so nervous. We all went on again and this time waited for front seats- I'd thought Patti and her husband would take them but Patti told me I should ride with her. Woo hoo!!!! Front seat was killer fun- especially the blast of air during the launch. This ride was a definite winner for me! I'd heard that people couldn't tell when they were upside down, but all 3 inversions were clear to me.
Afterwards, I thanked Patti and her husband but I didn't want to intrude on their day anymore and I also had a feeling my new hotel room would be ready. It turned out I was in room 4543, exactly 2 floors below my June room! The angle wasn't quite as good for watching logs go on Splash Mountain but it was still a stunning view and I totally love the bright décor. I called down for my luggage but they told me my bag from WL hadn't arrived yet. So I was very surprised when they promptly brought that bag up along with the 2 I'd hand carried.
One problem- there was a bottom flap that was totally loose on my Samsonite suitcase! The whole thing seemed a little more beat up than it had been, and it also had some yellow stuff (paint?) on the side. But the flap was the big problem. After expressing my disappointment to the bellman, a manager called and later came up to see. He said he'd try to get the part to fix it. I'd vaguley hoped they'd upgrade me to concierge level, but that was not to be. Oh well- I still felt totally lucky to have the wonderful room I had at my favorite WDW hotel!
I was pretty beat at this point, so I decided to nap before the meet I had for dinner- which was conveniently located on the 15th and top floor of my hotel. Feeling much refreshed, at slightly after 5pm I took the elevator up to the California Grill, which is one of my favorite WDW restaurants. After milling around for a little bit, we somehow divided ourselves into 2 big tables and a small table- my table included 4 solo travelers (me, Improvgal, Mark and Kevin) as well as a brother and sister travelling together from CA (I think) and a couple who would also be heading to Illuminations afterwards (I am so sorry for forgetting these names!)
When I got the menu, I was extremely disappointed to find that the wonderful chocolate souffle that I'd enjoyed twice before had vanished. There was a choice of a lemon souffle but that was not the same. Well, since I didn't need to leave room for dessert, I could concentrate on the main courses. I started out with the smoked salmon flatbread which is absolutely wonderful there and had a veal entrée which was also very tasty. MK closed at 6pm and when the fireworks went off, we all went outside to watch them. Throughout the meal, we had a lively and enjoyable conversation going on.
Afterwards, the plan was to take the bus from MK to Yacht Club for the Illuminations Cruise- since MK was open late for another MVMCP, this was a valid option. So we walked to MK together. However, Kevin owed some money to the nice couple whose names I forget, so he went inside the gates to the nearest ATM. It was out of service. I am told he paid them back the next day. At any rate, the 3 of us had no wait for a YC bus once we headed to the busses. We walked around and admired the YC Xmas decorations before heading out to the docks.
Once at the dock, we had to split up into our various boats and eventually I found the people for my boat. I was on the King Triton boat, along with Del, Barb, Cody, Del III, Matt, Penny, Robine, Ricky, Bob, & Andrew. At least those are the names I got off the post our driver, Brad, made on RADP- I seem to remember a Kelly in there somewhere but I could be wrong. At any rate, it was 3 families with kids and me. It was a little weird to be the only single there, but everyone was great. We put on our nametags and gifts were given to those with birthdays and the kids. We were one of the first boats to take off- we went over towards MGM first before heading to our Illuminations spot. I played the smart aleck who knew the answers to our skipper's questions (such as how high the Tower of Terror is). <G> We had sodas and cupcakes onboard so I enjoyed a diet coke.
It was fun seeing illuminations again- the view was great even though there was the head of a woman on another boat in the way. I think I preferred the Rose and Crown viewing area the night before because it felt closer to the action. But I'm terribly glad that I had the opportunity to experience both- the cruise especially is not something that would have been feasible for me to do as a solo traveler. Afterwards, we had a choice of docking at BoardWalk or back at Yacht Club- no one voiced an opinion so we headed back to Yacht Club. On our way back, we saw some RADP'ers waving at us from the top of the bridge and I was able to snap a quick photo of them! Not quite sure of names so I don't want to guess- but one person looked very familiar. <g>
I guess I have an air about me that says that I have a clue, so one of the families- a woman with her daughter and nephew (iirc) decided to stick to follow me to the Epcot entrance. That was great because I was enjoying spending as much time as possible with other people and not just alone. They were very friendly and had sat near me on the boat.
I took 2 monorails back to the Contemporary- I'd hoped to see the MVMCP fireworks from my balcony, but I checked the time when I got back and they'd been a half hr before I thought they were. So I took the elevator down to the very convenient (and open 24 hrs!) Food and Fun Center. I'd brought my refillable mug from June and used that to get my dose of diet coke. I'd wanted to get one of those chocolate chip cookies that I'd enjoyed in June, but they didn't seem to have any left. Oh, well.
Most magical moment of the day: riding in the front
of RnRC (as well as riding it for my first times!)
Least magical moment of the day: noticing my suitcase was broken when it got transferred.
I'd set a wakeup call for 7:45 am and the alarm for 8am and I needed both of them! I immediately threw on some clothes and refilled my mug (have I emphasized enough how convenient the Food and Fun Center is if you are staying in the Tower? <G>) and then left it on the table to drink with my cereal after taking a shower. I'd brought small boxes of cereal from home, as I usually do, and they were an excellent light breakfast.
At about 9:30am, I finally left for MGM. I rode Rock n Roller Coaster again, then took a fastpass for it, then rode Tower of Terror, then used my RnRC fastpass. There was really no line at RnRC so there was no advantage to getting a fastpass-- I'd just wanted to get one for the experience of it. I toyed with going on the Great Movie Ride but decided I needed to do some shopping before I left the park. This was really my first time alone in the parks in days.
I'd long since planned to attend Gwendel's 1pm meet at Tomorrowland in MK. I had enough time to make a brief visit to my hotel room (to drop off some purchases!) before walking over to MK. I love being able to walk to MK from the Contemporary! I think I'd also stopped at the concourse level shops before heading up to my room.
While making my way to Tomorrowland, I wondered if Gwendel would recognize me. I needn't have worried as she gave me a big warm welcome! She also wanted to trade for one of the pins from my lanyard which she thought I wasn't trading but I had no problems with it- I'd brought a bunch of pins down with me and my goal was to trade all of them.
An aside: Oh, this would be a good time to mention that sometime on Sunday I'd bought a pin lanyard at Epcot- I'd gotten sick of putting pins on my T-shirt then switching to my sweatshirt then back to T-shirt, etc. I didn't do much trading right away- I figured I'd do it mostly when I was on my own. I'd brought about a dozen pins down with me, but I hadn't spent a lot on them because I wasn't sure how much trading I'd be doing. Well, I should have bought more of the Mickey as Statue of Liberty from the NY Disney store because that one proved to be quite popular. I ended up trading a lot with CM's, but not exclusively so. One little boy came up to me and asked me if I needed Dumbo- how could I resist? <G> It turned out to be a fun thing to do- and since I am shy, it was great to have my pins as a conversation starter. (people would ask me about them- lots of people wanted to know about the RADP symbol pin I'd got from Judy Shaw though that was strictly off limits from trades) A lot of pins that I got were not worth much money but I grew emotionally attached to them because of the memories they carried with them- each one had its own story of how it came to me.
Anyway, back to Tomorrowland!
Besides me, the gathered included the Aleventis, Ping, Ariel, Kodaly, Randy Berbaum, Monica, Allan (and Snowball who gave me a hug!), Kevin and of course Gwendel. Poor Gwendel had been too sick to bake like she'd said she would, but she brought cookies anyway though no one partook of any (I would have definitely eaten something if she'd baked- wouldn't let that go to waste! But I wasn't really hungry). The Aliventis had to get somewhere not long after we gathered. After we stood and chatted for awhile, Kodaly and Mermaid left to deliver Ping safely to the airport. Monica, Allan and Snowball left soon afterwards, leaving only me, Gwendel, Kevin and Randy.
We *finally* decided to go on a ride. Of course, we picked Space Mountain. And of course, given my luck for attraction meets, it was down. :P So we decided to do Carousel of Progress which was great because it was on my "must do" list! Before doing so, I suggested getting Fastpasses for Space in case it came back up and had a line. CoP was a lot of fun as we sang along with the music. We then rode Tomorrowland Transportation Authority to see if Space was up (or to take pictures of the building with the lights on if it wasn't! hee hee!) It was working, so we headed there next. We got to walk past a small amount of peons in the standby line, though certain people remarked that Fastpass isn't fun unless you pass a lot of people. ;)
By the time we got to the front of the righthand line, the ride went down again. Aaargh! It seemed like it might have been because they had a hard time loading someone into one of the cars and getting the restraint down. But I don't know for sure. In any event, it was just a small delay til we were on our way! And what fun we had- Gwendel and Randy were listening to the DL soundtrack via his mini disc player. BTW, Randy was very friendly and down to earth for a man with so many high tech gizmos! <G>
While the other three headed to some other attraction that Kevin wanted to do, I had Candlelight Processional reservations at Epcot and I wanted to get there in time to see the 4pm Tapestry of Nations again. I left MK at 3pm and had to battle with the people that were lined up for the afternoon parade. By the time I picked up my CP package, it was getting close to showtime. I walked very briskly and got to World Showcase when they gave the 5 minute warning. Eeek! I hurried up and managed to get to Germany in time for the parade to start- I'd chosen Germany again because I'd had such a wonderful experience seeing it there twice before. I thought of R°o°b, who was home already, and wished he could have been there to see it again. (when he emailed later and asked me to think of him if I saw Tapestry, I told him that I'd already done so) One moment that was particularly touching was when The Sage of Time made some kind of special movement to a little girl in a wheelchair and she was so excited. I loved seeing kids get excited at the interactive moments of the parade!
The candlelight processional comes with a 15% discount shopping discount (good only the day of the package) which I put to good use! ;) I was thrilled to find a Japanese Minnie Mouse beanie that matched the full size version I'd purchased about 10 years earlier. I also bought some of the millenium themed merchandise that I'd been coveting. While I shopped, I got some compliments on my nail polish- which was a clearish base with multicolor glitter.
By the time I was done shopping, it was about before 6pm. I was walking to Morocco to see if I could catch a bit of the 6:15 show before lining up for Candelight Processional. When I passed through France, I saw Belle and Beast posing- *together*- for photos. Oooh! I enthusiastically got into what ended up being a very long line. I was sorta near the front, but I got nervous when the greeter announced that there were only 7 minutes left before Belle and Beast had to leave. OK, I know I am not a little kid but I sooooo wanted a picture of me with Belle and the Beast! Fortunately, it took a few minutes for the greeter to go down to the 6 minute warning and it was my turn before they left. Yay! I told Belle that I named my cat after her, and she was touched. In fact, she told me to tell my cat that she said hi. :) And yes, I did eventually give Belle the cat the message and she purred her approval. :) (I forgot to show Belle my watch with her picture and wasn't waering my sweatshirt- darn!) The greeter took a photo of the 3 of us and it turned out great. I thanked Belle for posing and hoped I didn't take too much time away from a little child's opportunity.
I made it to Morocco to see the start of Tapestry, but I had reservations for the 6:45pm Candlelight Processional so I decided not to linger and to walk toward the America pavilion. Well, eventually it dawned on me that all the folks standing at the perimeter of Tapestry *were* the line for the CP. Eeeeeeek! That's right, the line- for reserved seats- stretched all the way past Japan and to Morocco. It wasn't roped off so I didn't even know where the end of it was. I was ready to just chuck the show but I'd paid good money for my seat, plus that day's narrator was Brian Dennehy, who had totally rocked in Death of a Salesman on Broadway.
I realized I was starving, and since I hate crowds, I almost had a nervous breakdown right down in the middle of World Showcase. A lady with a large family took pity on me and had me join her family for the event. They were very sweet to me and treated me like one of their own- though I felt embarrassed for being so upset when they spotted me. (this was one time when it helped me to look a lot younger than I am-- I didn't look quite as pathetic that way <g>)
I'd hoped that reserved seats would have meant sitting close enough to snap a decent photo of Mr. Dennehy, but we were way back. Some of the reserved seating people were still entering when the show started. I knew to expect that the show was heavy on the Christmas/ religious theme but I still wanted to experience it at least once. It was lovely, but since I am Jewish, I was not totally overwhelmed. I would probably skip it next time even if there weren't line issues- but the chaotic crowds cinch it for me.
When I got to Canada's Le Cellier restaurant slightly early for my 8pm priority seating, they told me it was a 30 minute wait. I was in no mood for that- I was hungry and fed up with crowds. I was also bored, so I called my parents to bitch and kill time. Wouldn't you know it- I was on the phone 5 minutes and my pager went off and it was time to be seated.
Dinner was wonderful and just what I needed! I started by sampling the breadsticks they have on the table- pretzel, sourdough and one other. Then I enjoyed the tasty cheese soup. My entrée was the Maple Glazed salmon, which was as delicious as it had been in June. The package also included dessert so I ordered their version of the millenium dessert. Like Rose and Crown, it included a chocolate miniature of Spaceship Earth. However, this one was filled with Maple Butterfinger mousse. It was just as beautiful and delicious as the other one! :) I couldn't get over the fact that I didn't have a check at all (it was included in the price of my package but I still expected *something*). I did leave a couple extra dollars for the waiter who gave good service though he paid more attention to the larger parties near me.
Which reminds me before dinner was served, a couple of the ladies at the table to my left set off for the bathroom to change a baby's diaper. I was surprised they came back so quickly. Then I realized- oh, no! They were changing the baby's diaper right there at the booth because there wasn't a place in the restroom. I am sorry, but that is just *wrong* on several levels. I tried to pretend it wasn't happening and I didn't smell anything. Being alone, I was too intimidated to say anything- not to mention rather shocked! Other than that episode, the baby was adorable and it was fun to smile at her during dinner. ;)
On the way out from dinner, I recognized Pope Buck who was also eating alone. I wished we'd recognized each other beforehand so we could have each had company (and freed up a table at the restaurant). I vaguely remembered seeing him beforehand, but my mind must have been elsewhere. At any rate, it was nice to stop and chat for a bit.
When I'd departed Tomorrowland, I'd made plans with Kevin to meet up at the International Gateway bridge for Illuminations between 9 and 9:15. I looked and looked and didn't see him. It was very crowded because it was an early entry day, so I decided to skip Illuminations and be satisfied with the 2 great views I'd enjoyed already this trip. Before departing Epcot, I purchased a millenium snowglobe I'd been eyeing which is just gorgeous! I had the snow globe shipped to my room since it was too bulky to carry. Between dinner and my purchases, I think I got my money's worth out of the Candlelight Processional package, even if I didn't have a great experience with the show itself.
I just missed a monorail pulling out of the Epcot station. However, since I was at the front of the line, I asked if I could ride up front of the next one and they said I could. Woo hoo! A family of 4 later inquired about sitting up front but there is a 4 person limit so only their 2 kids rode there with me. At the end of the ride, the driver offered all 3 of us monorail co-pilot's licenses and I was probably even more thrilled than the little kids! :)
I transferred to the resort monorail at the TTC and then stopped at the Grand Floridian to walk around and see their Christmas decorations. At the store, I decided to trade one of the CM's for one of the 2 Tinkerbell pins he was wearing- he also had a bunch of name pins on his lanyard. I could only wish they'd make one with my name on it! I traded him one of my Disneyland pins and he told me he'd take it, even though he wasn't supposed to. Hello, he should have been thrilled for a little diversity on that lanyard of his. ;) I'd never had problems trading my Disneyland pins to CM's any other time and I later verified on RADP that any Disney pin should be ok.
When I got to my room, I admired my purchases- I hadn't had most of them delivered to the room because I wanted to be able to enjoy them immediately. Hee hee! And like every other night during my trip, I added a construction paper flame to the cardboard menorah decoration I'd brought with me. It was Hannukah but I was too paranoid to light a real menorah so this would have to do.
Most magical moment of the day: receiving my monorail
Least magical moment of the day: Candlelight chaotic crowds
I hadn't been to Animal Kingdom yet this trip, so it was tops on my list for Wednesday. I didn't think I could get myself up in time for opening, but I managed to get up at 7:15 and get to AK before 9am. The first show of Legend of the Lion King was at 9:15 so I headed over there. I always sit in the lion section because that is where I sat the first time when I was asked to lead the lion roar (which fulfilled a dream of mine to be picked to do something at a show at WDW). I wanted to sit in the front row again because there was room for one more person, but some guests got all snooty that it was a "handicapped" area. I thought only the exact places with wheelchair symbols were reserved- not the whole row. At any event, the show was not full and many spaces at the front of the section were empty.
At the start of the show, the CM who takes the lion section asked for a volunteer. I figured I'd let someone else get their moment in the sun. But when no one was raising their arms, I figured it was fate for me to volunteer myself. So I got to lead the lion roar even though I was not in the front row! :) I had a lot of fun with the roaring and was complimented by someone on my way out. The show is always fun and it is a favorite of mine.
By the time I got out, it was getting to be time to head over to the first Tarzan Rocks show of the day at 10:30. I checked the Countdown to Extinction line and it didn't seem to be a walk on, so I got a fastpass to return after the show.
I was able to have my choice of seats for the Tarzan show and I ended up sitting about halfway back, on a side aisle. The show was new to me and I hadn't read a whole lot about it. I was very disappointed that Tarzan and Jane were only in it briefly. The singers were fine and the skating and such was fun (even if it did remind me of the musical Starlight Express at times <g>) It was fun to see once but I doubt it would be a must-see for each trip.
I think a lot of people decided to go to the nearby Countdown to Extinction after Tarzan, so I was happy I had my fastpass. I think it is a good strategy in general to get a fastpass to a nearby attraction if it's possible before you see a show (assuming the return time would cover about the time when the show gets out). It definitely doesn't hurt.
After CtX, I was ready to go to Restaurantosaurus for my favorite WDW treat- namely cookie dough brownies. It was quite a shock when I looked at the menu and the words "cookie dough" had been removed (though it was still pictured). First the CA Grill chocolate souffle and now this?!? Well at least this means I wouldn't be tempted to run over to AK just for the cookie dough brownies anymore. ;) Still, I was slightly in mourning for 2 of my favorite treats. (though I was grateful for the new millenium desserts at Epcot!)
At any rate, I skipped the snack idea and headed over to "It's Tough to be a Bug" I was disappointed not to find any inexpensive souvenirs of the show, as one would have been the perfect addition to the gift I am giving to a friend for Xmas. ;) I found a yummy looking chocolate chip cookie so I finally had my snack- and it was perfect! Then I headed to Kilamanjaro Safari- it seemed to have a long-ish wait, so I opted for a Fastpass and did some more shopping while I waited. (I would have shopped eventually anyway, so this was a smart usage of time)
We saw lots of animals on the safari- for the first time I saw one of the lions, though it was sleeping. I debated going on Kali River Rapids afterwards but I wasn't in the mood to get very wet so I passed and headed back to the hotel to pick up a couple items I needed to bring to MGM for SheGoof. I spent some time enjoying my Tower room and finally starting to take some notes on my trip.
I had no wait for a bus, and I headed for the Animation Courtyard of MGM where I was told to go into any store and ask for SheGoof (by her real name of course <G>) I was terribly impressed by the tone the CM used to tell me she was a manager- and by the fact the CM led me around to look for her. Eventually we caught up and did our exchange, and chatted for a short while. It was nice to talk to someone after spending most of the day on my own- though I also enjoy being able to do WDW independently at my own pace.
I considered doing RnRC or ToT but people were already lining up for Fantasmic so I joined them. I was able to virtually my pick of seats when they opened the seating area (sometime before 5:30 pm iirc)- that is what happens when you arrive before 5pm for a 6:30pm show. ;) I chose to sit on the 6th row of the Mickey section, right in the center. I figured it would be far enough back not to get soaked, but close enough to get some good photos. I'd run out of film the night before, and I was glad I'd decided to buy another roll just before getting in line for the show.
Before the show, I spent a lot of time chatting with the couple behind me from CA, and taking more notes for my trip report. A CM was challenging us with trivia questions and from him I learned:
1.There are 12 monorail colors
2. WDW has 197 busses
3. WDW is 40 square miles
4. WDW has 60,000 employees
5. Spaceship Earth has 11,324 triangles
6. There are over 1000 named characters in Disney films
7. WDW has 6 mountains: Space, Splash, Big Thunder, Fantasmic, Mt Gushmore and Mt. Mayday
Before the above, he challenged us to come up with 10 full length Disney films that had one word titles. He certainly kept us from being bored! We also had a bellhop preshow and another guy who also did some comedy. At some point, I had some pizza since people walked around selling it.
Finally it was time for the show to begin and it was as incredible as I remembered from last Dec! I still like the Disneyland one better overall (since it features places and ships that you could actually be on during the day before they are transformed) But this was still wonderful.
Afterwards, it seemed like quite a few people were heading for the Osbourne Lights so I followed them- I was very happy that they were open past park closing so I didn't need to choose between them and Fantasmic.
The couple behind me had talked about Downtown Disney and that had lit a lightbulb in my mind as I realized, hey, I didn't have to go straight back to the room so early. I used CBR as a transfer point again, only this time I had a little wait for the DtD bus.
Once I got to DtD, I realized that everyone else must have had the same idea- man, was it *crowded* I could barely walk around World of Disney. However, the line for Ghirardelli's was quite manageable. ;) I had a most wonderful dish of mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge sauce. Yummmmm! Afterwards, I stopped into Reading and Riting which was *much* less crowded than World of Disney had been, so I was able to snag a photo album with my MKC discount.
I was completely exhausted by the time I got back. I don't think I even went online. I was happy to note that they'd fixed my suitcase while I'd been out. I went to sleep at around midnight, which is on the early side for me.
Most magical moment of the day: leading the lion roar
again at Festival of the Lion King
Least magical moment of the day: discovering that there were no cookie dough brownies anymore at AK
It was my *sniff* last day at WDW and I was determined to make the most of it since my flight didn't leave until the evening! I tried to get up at 6am and I came close. First thing I did was to call the front desk to see if I could get a late checkout since I wanted to do early entry at MK and then come back to the room. They said it wouldn't be possible- bah. But they told me to call housekeeping after 7. Meanwhile, I started packing- I'd had to totally empty my suitcase the day before so they could fix it and I'd been way too tired that night to do any packing.
When I called housekeeping, they told me they'd let me have a 12pm checkout, though it was pushing it a bit. I was very grateful that they were able to do this for me as I wanted access to my luggage and room. Well, I would have wanted to keep the room forever, but of course that isn't possible ;)
I was able to arrive at MK at around 7:45 for early entry. My first stop is Dumbo, which is only manageable during early entry. I don't care that I am an "adult"- I still find it fun! :) I hadn't done much in Fantasyland so since I was already there, I went on Peter Pan and It's a Small World. Both were walk-ons.
I headed over to Tomorrowland, where Space Mountain was about a 10 minute wait; as I got to the front of the line, I saw that only the right hand side was operating. I considered going on Buzz Lightyear again but it was posted at a 15 minute wait and I wanted to get to the Hub for rope drop so I could go on Splash Mountain one more time before the park got crowded. I was quite surprised to see that Frontierland and Adventureland were already open at 8:50 am! When I got to Splash, I only saw empty logs going down the ride. Fastpass was in operation but I went in the standby line. I was sure it couldn't be the 20 minutes that were posted and indeed it was practically a walk on. I said my goodbye to the ride, at least until the next trip. It was still a walk on when I got off, and I debated riding again but it was still a bit chilly out- and I'd made my peace with having my final ride already. Instead, I headed for a final ride on Big Thunder Mountain. Then I backtracked to Buzz Lightyear which was about a 5 minute wait. I was pleased to hit some targets but my score was pathetic compared to my score on MCMVP night. (I think I got around 20,000- 30,000)
I spent some time doing a final perusal of the MK shops and was thrilled to find a millenium pin with my name pre-printed on it! I'd just been wishing for one a night or two earlier. All day, I was so excited about the pin that I pointed it out to anyone who commented on my pins! :) On my way out of the park, an outgoing CM came up to me and complimented me on my pins and added "..but I bet you don't have this one!" and revealed a CM Safari pin. I have no idea if it is rare, but it was sweet the way he offered it to me and it definitely has sentimental value to me!
I returned to the hotel about 11am and was very thankful that my late check out had made my MK morning be less rushed. My snow globe from Epcot *still* hadn't been delivered so I called down to the front desk again; it seems a delivery had just arrived and they were able to find it and send it right up. Since I was going to hand carry it, it hadn't hampered my packing. I hadn't had time for breakfast earlier, so I had some cereal in the room, along with a cookie I'd gotten when refilling my mug one last time.
I savored the last minutes of my Tower room before calling the bellman to store my bags. Leaving the hotel wasn't quite as sad as in June; after all, if I'd been lucky enough to stay there twice within 6 months, I'd probably be back eventually. Still, I'd miss that colorful room with its amazing view
It must have been Murphy's Law but the one time I was in a hurry for a bus to come (since it was my last day and I wanted to cram as much in as possible), it seemed to take forever. Right after I told a passing CM that I'd been waiting 20 minutes, my MGM bus came at about 12:20. Hmmmm ;)
I wanted to ride RnRC again but it was down. Again. So I headed to ToT, thinking that it might be up by the time I was done. While in line, a mother with 2 children asked me if I'd ridden it before. I told her I had. I described some of the ride- the daughter was relieved when I told her it actually had seats. I assured them that I was terrified of the ride when I'd first ridden it but I'd been on it many times since then and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I told them that it was indeed scary, but that it was fun. I said the motion was like sometimes on an airplane with turbulence.
I don't remember where we were online- we might have been in the pre-show room. And I don't even remember what exactly prompted it. But the sweet blonde haired daughter either asked another question or made another comment. And I impulsively told her that I'd go on with them if that would make them feel better. I told her I'd tell her exactly when it was going to drop so she wouldn't be as scared. That seemed to make them feel better.
The son eventually decided not to ride, and the 3 of us were directed to numbers that signified the 2nd row- I told the girl that was perfect because it wasn't as scary as the front row. When we eventually boarded, she looked excited but scared. I told her to feel free to grab me if she got too scared. During the ride, as promised, I told her what was going to happen ("we're going to go up, but don't worry we won't drop yet- we're going up again") and I alerted her to the first drop. I kept an eye on her and her mother next to her, to be sure they were ok. At this point in time, they were my family, almost as much as if we'd been blood related.
By the time we got to the big drops, it was too noisy to explain what was going on. But the little girl was smiling during her screams and I was thrilled! After we got off, the two of them thanked me for calming them down. I asked them if it was indeed not as scary as it looked- the mother said it *was* very scary. But she was glad she'd experienced it. The daughter seemed to think it was cool.
I thought of buying the photo, but I think I wanted to remember the incident in a more abstract way. It could have been any mother and child. In fact, we never did exchange names (I don't think they saw my name pin). I quietly disappeared into the store after they thanked me- my little mission was done.
This was perhaps one of the most special memories I've *ever* had at WDW. I felt like I was able to give back some magic, even without being a CM. Maybe anyone would have done the same thing. But it is such a treasured memory to me that it still brings tears to my eyes. It made me feel terrific beyond words to see that I could do something special for 2 total strangers. I also felt I'd come full circle- the very first time I rode ToT I'd been too scared to ride by myself and the CM at the entrance got a random family to adopt me (though they didn't tell me the drops and all). At some point before I left the park, I saw that ToT was a walk-on. Normally, I would have run in line. However, my experience that afternoon was so wonderful and special that I did not feel I'd gain anything from riding again.
Somewhere in the world, there is a little girl and a mother who told people that a nice young woman helped give them the courage to enjoy a ride at WDW. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been at the right place at the right time- which wouldn't have happened with a more prompt bus or with RnRC not going down. Sometimes, things happen for a reason.
After my incredible experience at ToT, I rode Rock n Roller Coaster for two last times- the final time being from the front seat. That ride was the perfect choice as it accentuated my mood, which was flying high. I also bought a RnRC T-shirt. I considered doing some of the other attractions I'd missed this trip (The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, Muppetvision) but I really wanted to have time to head over to Epcot and it was already past 2pm.
At Epcot, I started by hanging around a pin station and looking at different people's pins. I was really looking for a Contemporary pin, and there weren't any at the hotel. While in Mousegear, a guest admired my last Mickey as Statue of Liberty pin and offered me a Tokyo DL pin for it. I accepted. :)
I went back to Millenium Village to see if there was anything I missed. I saw the end of the Tivoli Puppet Show from Denmark, and also watched part of a culture trivia quiz. On my way to Germany for the 4pm Tapestry of Nations, I spotted a guest with a Contemporary pin and asked her if she'd trade. I was all out of pins I'd brought with me and the pin she wanted was my Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management. Originally, I hadn't even wanted that pin from the girl who'd traded it to me, but now I was attached to it and to the memory of that trade. Reluctantly, I agreed because I really wanted a Contemporary pin. Her son wanted to trade a Cogsworth pin for my Jane pin that I'd gotten from a CM, and I agreed. I hate to say no to kids, and the mother was sweet to trade her Contemporary pin (though I suspect it was a good deal for her too) I missed the two pins I'd traded away- and though I'd seen Jane around a lot, there wasn't enough time to find one again. Eventually, I traded Cogsworth for another Ariel pin (I already had one)- I just wanted a more feminine look. ;)
The 4pm Tapestry was as amazing as always, and I was sad to note that it would be my last time seeing it for the foreseeable future. One weird thing was that one of the drummer floats was missing its drummer on one side! I walked clockwise around the lagoon and was surprised that the bridge before China was up! They were already sending in the giant globe and other barged for illuminations. It has never occurred to me that the bridge *could* be lifted! After a short wait, the bridge was lowered and we were able to pass through.
Norway's Maelstrom had a posted wait of 15 minutes, but I decided to get in line and it ended up being only about a 7 minute wait. Yes, I ducked out of the film since I've seen it many times. I also rode El Rio de Tiempre at Mexico since I hadn't ridden it in ages. It will probably be a long time before I ride again, but it was nice to see it again, to refresh my memory of it.
When I went back looking for pins, I ran into Improvgal! We chatted for awhile and I showed her the pin with my name on it. <G> I wished we could have spent more time together, but it was time to go back to the Contemporary to catch my shuttle to the airport.
It was about 6pm, so I got the closing traffic from MK on my way around to the Contemporary. Once I got in, I stopped at the Food and Fun Center to buy 2 chocolate chip cookies to take home with me. All too soon, the 6:35 shuttle came to take me to the airport. It was a direct ride, so I got there in plenty of time for my flight. I even called my mom and had some pizza while I waited.
The running around finally caught up with me after I boarded the plane. I have no memory of the safety instructions, so I must have slept through them. I vaguely remember waking up when we were about to take off and drifting in and out of sleep until we reached a pleasant cruising altitude. I slept most of the flight which was a good thing, considering the plane was due to land after 11pm and I had a half hour drive ahead of me.
Most magical moment of the day: my Tower of Terror
Least magical moment of the day: having to go back to reality
This was one of the best trips to WDW ever! I liked being able to combine solo touring with meets and informal get togethers with other RADPer's. I'd been somewhat concerned that I'd be too shy to hook up with anyone, but it worked out wonderfully. I already decided I must attend next year's meet as well. I'd like to express my gratitude to everyone who worked hard to make this meet a success- maybe I can get more involved next year.
Some final thoughts & summations:
Fastpass- This was the first chance I had to try to system whereby you insert your ticket into a slot and get a pass to return to certain attractions at a designated time with little wait. I am not sure how well it will work in peak season, but it works great when the return time isn't all that far down the line (about an hour or so). I particularly recommend getting Fastpass for nearby attractions before you go to a show, if it is convenient. Also, it works well to get a Fastpass when a ride is down for a short time since it's likely to be back up by the time you return.
Millenium Celebration- Overall, this gets a big thumbs up from me. Tapestry of Nations and, to a lesser extent, the new Illuminations bring new life to Epcot. I also love the millenium desserts that feature a chocolate Spaceship Earth filled with mousse! :)
Pin Trading- Pin trading was more fun than I thought it would be, and I was glad I'd brought some pins down with me. It's more fun being able to trade pins that aren't readily available in the parks, and you can get offered some interesting trades that way. I wasn't all that "gung ho" into finding valuable pins- but trading casually definitely enhanced my trip, especially during times when I was on my own. I was mainly trading for pins that I thought looked cute, though I did manage to get some unusual ones as well. I plan to bring more pins with me next trip and do some more trading.
Wilderness Lodge- I enjoyed the beauty of this hotel, though it lacked the convenience of my favorite. I am definitely glad I stayed there once, and the Christmas season was probably the best time to do so! Although my Courtyard view was lovely, I think I might have preferred the privacy of a Woodsview room (albeit one away from the construction side) even though it is less expensive. One nice touch that I forgot to mention before is that the maid would leave me little towel sculptured animals- with some stuff stuck on them for eyes, etc. I kept them where they were left for the remainder of my stay in the room. :)
Contemporary Tower- It is still my ultimate hotel! I love its convenience- and it is a plus that the Food and Fun center is open 24 hrs for soda refills- not to mention that it is just a quick elevator ride away. The Magic Kingdom view is amazing and this time, I didn't bother closing the blinds at night. It's certainly not for everyone- but for those who like to feel in the middle of things and who enjoy bright colors, it rocks!
RADP meets- I attended all the meets I planned to attend. I enjoyed them all, and they added a wonderful dimension to my trip. I wish I'd been able to fit in an Adventurer's Club meet, as I'd never been there but it just didn't work out. I wish I hadn't been so shy about talking to people, but I didn't think anyone would miss meeting me. I'll try to be more outgoing next year! :) Thanks to everyone I met for making my trip so special! (and even if I forgot your name or spelled it wrong, I enjoyed meeting you!!)
Crowds- It was definitely more crowded than my trip last Dec, probably due to the millenium celebrations. But it was still manageable.
Weather- Boy did I luck out this time! I arrived just after a cold-ish spell and was often wearing T-shirts and shorts. I usually carried a long sleeve shirt with me, in case I got cold in the A/C or later at night. But it was never so cold that I even thought about hot chocolate. I couldn't have ordered better weather!
This report is probably my longest ever (they seem to get longer and longer ), so I will be surprised and touched if anyone read this far. I hope it held your interest if you did! :)