It all started as a lark. Maybe it was one day when I was driving home from the mall, or maybe it was just when I was looking at old Disney photos when working on renovating my Disney website (as of April 2002, I still am working on that same renovation). A simple question danced in my mind: "What if?"
What if some day I drove South on I-95 and just didn't stop? The idea of a semi-impromptu road trip started to appeal to me more and more. Plus, I really wanted to get another trip in on my AP which expired in Dec. For months, I'd thought it might be a good idea to get away during the Republican Convention but fate just didn't smile on that idea.
However, I think it was on Wed. morning during the convention, I checked WDW hotel availability online at Travelocity. I saw Port Orleans was available that Sun for 3 nights. I'd already decided that to avoid traffic, if I drove, I'd leave here on a Sat, drive Sat & Sun and then drive back on Sat & Sun the following wknd. Something made me hit the final button to book it, though I wasn't sure it would even go through. Well, it went through and it was too late to cancel under the new CRO policies, so all of a sudden I was going to WDW! Wooooo!
I later called CRO, though I got Walt Disney Travel Company, and I was able to add 3 nights at Coronado Springs. I was excited to get my 1st choice hotels- I'd never stayed at either one before and I wanted to try them both. I checked on the possibility of a priority seating for breakfast at the castle at any time during my trip but, not surprisingly, it was not available.
So thus a very last minute road trip was born and I was excited. I had not traveled by car to WDW since my very first trip when I was obviously just a passenger; Driving to WDW would be a new experience to me. I figured that with a car, I could perhaps go off Disney property and I could bring some food and a cooler down with me.
Note- I didn't formally write up most of this trip report until months after the trip itself. Luckily, I have great notes and a good memory- though sometimes, I still might be off in small details- especially regarding the last day and the drive home, as I guess I was too sad about leaving to jot down any notes at all. ;)
I went to sleep at 9pm on Friday, like a good girl, with my alarm set for an early 5am. Well, my cat Belle must have wanted me to really beat the traffic because she woke me up at around midnight- and she seldom bothers me when I am asleep. At 1am, I finally gave up on attempting to go back to sleep. At 2am, I started packing up the car and at 2:27 I was on my way!
So that I wouldn't get lonely, my passenger seat was occupied by my Extra Large Peace beanie bear buddy, and the back seat had was populated with various beanie babies. I wanted to take a photo of them all before I left but it appeared my camera battery was dead. Grr. I also had various snacks handy in the car in case I got hungry for a quick bite. My 12 CD changer was full of 11 Disney related CD's as well as one theatre CD, "Parade", that I wished to listen to in Georgia. The Disney CD's worked marvelously both to set the mood and to keep my momentum high!
Driving the familiar Phila-D.C. leg of I-95 before daybreak got boring, especially since I was already quite familiar with that portion of the drive. However, I was able to cover a lot of ground before taking my 1st rest stop in Manassas, VA at about 5:30am. I think I've been spoiled by MD rest stops which are right on the highway and which include fast food and gas as well as restrooms- making things very efficient. So I soon had to make another stop in VA for gas- I somehow stumbled upon a Wawa gas station which had the bonus of being very cheap (compared to home)- $1.38/gallon. I also bought bottled water and soda.
Meanwhile, I'd passed a sign for Pocahontas state park in Virginia- I hadn't known such a park existed. And wouldn't you know it, my Pocahontas soundtrack CD came on a couple minutes after I passed the sign and continued to play until I was a couple minutes out of VA! I couldn't have timed it better if I'd tried! Once out of VA, I stopped at the North Carolina welcome center at about 8:15 and while I was there, I picked up some random travel brochures, just because I'd probably never have a chance to do so again.
I was excited when I finally saw a South of the Border sign in N.C. The signs got more frequent within 60 miles. I'd thought I might stop there overnight but it was still so early in the day that it seemed ridiculous to call it quits. I started to think that maybe I could really do the drive in 1 day. So I smiled as I saw Sombrero Tower to the left of the road and vowed to stop there on the way home.
South Carolina was especially boring without even the hope of South of the Border billboards to amuse me. I stopped somewhere between 11 and 11:30 for gas. By the time I got to the Georgia border at about 2, I decided I would not quit driving until I reached WDW. It motivated me to think that instead of spending my night just sitting in some crummy motel room, I could take a quick jaunt into MGM or MK! So after calling home, I called CRO and booked a king bed room at CBR (the cheapest room available onsite). There was no turning back now. Woo hoo!
In retrospect, I realize I was overtired at this point. However, I was also full of adrenaline and fully alert- I'd never have continued driving if I felt it would be dangerous for any reason (such as if my eyes couldn't stay open). It really didn't feel like I'd been driving for 12 hrs. It was almost a zen-like experience the way the drive was relaxing once I got into the rhthym. There was little traffic and it was not at all stressful. It was more relaxing than trying to get a cheap hotel room and finding some local sights in some random town. ;)
So onward I drove, stopping twice more in Georgia. The first stop was was prompted by a sign for a Cracker Barrel store. I'd heard of them but I didn't think there were any any near me. I got a postcard there for a friend and as an extra bonus I spotted my favorite soda that I haven't seen in years- Stewarts diet orange cream soda. Wooooo! (the regular kind is available around here but never the diet) Then I stopped right before the FL border because the signs for $1.22/gallon gas appealed to me. I decided that with any luck, my next stop would be WDW!
And indeed it was. However, FL driving was not quite as smooth as it had been in other states. For one thing, there were random bursts of strong rain- but they only lasted for a few minutes at a time and then it was fine. For another, traffic on I-4 between Universal and Sea World was horrid. The driving had already started to feel long an hour or so before then, and it was so annoying to be so close and to feel so far due to the sudden traffic. I'd underestimated the drive time in Florida and honestly, if I didn't have the CBR ressie, I probably would have stopped somewhere earlier in the state.
But suddenly, sometime after 8pm, my exit appeared and *poof* I was at the CBR! I kept circling the main building trying to figure out where to pull in for checking in, and then I finally just parked in the front lot. I got a room in Trinidad South, which is the furthest building from the main one- I didn't mind since it was just for 1 night. I had a hard time finding my room once I parked- note to self: don't carry all my wordly possessions until after I've first scoped out the location of my room. There was no elevator and I don't like to stay on ground floor alone. . . but I got my suitcase upstairs somehow.
I was very tired but I was determined that I ought to see a park for at least a tiny bit (I had an AP so I wouldn't be wasting a day of admission) instead of just going to the hotel's food court! I decided on MGM because it was close and open late. I just missed a bus and had to wait for another. On that bus, I caught a glimpse of some of the fireworks from illuminations which made me feel that I was really at WDW! I rode RnRC standby (~25 min wait maybe). There was some sort of delay getting into the briefing room but we had a great CM trying to entertain the crowd by asking questions and such. Afterwards, I got some pizza and boy, was it welcome to eat some real food! I realized I was too tired to enjoy Fantasmic, even though I wanted to see it- luckily, a bus was waiting to take me back to CBR.
I went online to check email and was annoyed my mouse wasn't working, Plus, my camera was still not in working order. My mom gave me some grief for not calling when I'd arrived- even though I'd known she was not home. I talked to a friend online a bit, but I still didn't tell her I was at WDW; I figured she would find out when she got my postcards though she checks her P.O. box so infrequently that I think I told her before she got them. ;)
I finally went to sleep at about 12:30 (at which point, wow, I'd been awake for 24 hrs! I had not fully realized that until I typed up this TR; I think I'd been counting from 2:30am) and set my alarm for 9:15am.
So all in all, it took me about 17.5 hrs to drive 1047 miles down there, including several brief stops- the longest being at the Georgia welcome center.
Most Magical Moment: seeing the Epcot fireworks from my bus
Least Magical Moment: Universal area traffic
Despite my best intentions of getting an early start, it was not to be. First of all, I woke up at 10:15 and realized I'd set the alarm for PM and not AM. Duh. Perhaps Mickey Mouse was magically looking after me, because I am sure that I really needed the extra hour of rest. The front desk accommodated me with a late 1pm checkout, which was good because I started to have a stomach ache. (gee, do you think it could be from staying up so long and eating mainly junk food the day before?) I assume I ate my pop tart before getting the stomach ache. ;)
At 12:30, I finally left for Port Orleans; I was lucky to find someone to help me bring my luggage down the stairs at CBR. Since I felt so rotten, I requested a room near the main building which has the snack bar and bus stop- normally I am not as picky on being close. CM Don who checked me in was fabulous and he got me room 4328, a 3rd floor room right near the main building. Before heading to my room, I bought some apple juice. I ended up deciding to lay down for a bit; I didn't get up until 2:30.
When I finally got myself together, I headed over to Epcot which was probably a good choice as it seemed rather empty. It was overcast out but the temperature was not overbearingly warm. Despite the cloudy skies, it barely even dripped.
I headed first to The Living Seas- I don't think I'd been there since 1990. Well, now I can skip it for another 10 years. ;) I decided to see "O Canada" which was also something I'd not seen in a long time, if ever. Before the movie started, I wandered around the shops where maple flavored delights appealed to me. The film itself was nice but it made me a little dizzy, especially since I was getting hungry.
Before coming down with a stomach ache, I'd called that morning for a priority seating for an early dinner at Le Cellier. I'd worried for awhile that I would feel too ill be able to follow through. But fortunately, my stomach felt much better after some rest. I still had some time to kill, so I decided to head to the Millenium Village for a quick walk-through which included their massive restrooms. I returned in perfect time to be seated right away, and I was soon greeted by Valerie was my charming waitress with a French accent. I ordered my usual meal: cheese soup, maple glazed salmon and the millenium dessert which I described in my 12/99 trip report. I couldn't finish the latter but I absolutely had to get it! I'd forgotten about the breadsticks they serve but I can assure you that I fully enjoyed them. Le Cellier is one of my absolute favorite restaurants and it did not disappoint.
I felt a bit stuffed from my dinner but I can't even describe how good it felt to finally eat a real meal! I tried to eat slowly so I wouldn't feel too sick.
Tapestry of Nations was performed at 6:30 not at 6:15 like I'd thought, and I had plenty of time to get a good spot near Germany. I loved this parade in Dec, and I was excited to see it again this trip. It never fails to move me, and to make me feel so lucky to be in WDW.
After the parade, I walked around the Mouse Gear shop a little before heading to the monorail to the TTC and then to the MK, my ultimate favorite "Wow, I am really at WDW" park! I arrived around 8pm and Main Street was already crowded with people lining up for the 9pm MSEP parade.
After browsing through the shops along Main Street, I headed through the castle (as I always make a point of doing!) to Fantasyland. I rode in a boat by myself at It's a Small World, which had no wait, and then continued to Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan (whose sign said it was a 20 minute wait but it was more like 10). I headed over to Space Mountain which had been closed earlier- it was now open but it had an 80 minute wait. Not surprisingly, I decided to pass. ;) I rode the TTA and was able to see some of the end of the MSEP from my car.
I'd originally wanted to stay for the fireworks, but I was just too tired. I was lucky enough to find a PO bus waiting for me and I did see a hint of the fireworks from my resort.
After checking email (and getting kicked off many times… grrrr), refilling my cooler with ice, asking for a Do Not Disturb sign and leaving a message for Rob, I finally went to sleep around midnight.
Most Magical Moment: Tapestry of Nations
Least Magical Moment: feeling sick
I slept. . . and slept. . . and slept. . . and slept! In all, I got about 12 hours of sleep and I am sure I needed it! Normally, I like to get to the parks first thing in the morning but that was just not to be- and of course, it is more important to me to be healthy and well rested than to beat the lines. Before I left, the maid knocked on my door (I think this was when I was awake and getting ready though I am not sure)- the Do Not Disturb sign had disappeared or something.
The theme of leisure continued as I decided to take the boat to Downtown Disney after purchasing my E-ride ticket for the next day. It was luckily a very short wait for a boat, and the ride was pleasant and relaxing. Once at DtD, I browsed the shops and coveted many things which I could not afford. ;) Then I headed for Ghirardellis and devoured my mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and marshmallow sauce- yummm! (yes, my stomach was feeling better) I continued to walk around DtD, not purchasing anything, until I made my way to the West Side bus stop. During the 10 minute wait for the PO bus, I saw 3 buses that were headed to TTC/Contemporary and I wondered why buses never came to the DtD stops that often when I was staying at the Contemporary? ;)
Still not quite over my drive, I took a little nap. At 6:40, I decided to go to MGM. I promptly got a RnRC fastpass and another for The Little Mermaid and then rode ToT with a very short wait. By then, it was time for TLM which is one of my favorites! Then I headed to The Great Movie Ride which had no wait at all.
I stopped by Pizza Planet for some pizza and soda and then headed back to use my fast pass for RnRC. I was able to ride the front car- wooo! When I got off the ride, the first showing of Fantasmic was letting out, so I decided to avoid the crowds and to ride ToT again. ;)
At 10:30, I got in line for the 2nd showing of Fantasmic and got a seat in the Maleficent section at about 10:45. The show was not full but it was as great as I remembered! Lots of people were waving these nifty twirly things that display a message that can either be chosen or programmed- of course I had to buy one on my way out. ;) The show let out at 11:30 and I was back in my hotel room at around midnight.
I had a message from Rob, checked email and then went to sleep.
Most Magical Moment: Fantasmic!
Least Magical Moment: having the maid knock on my door when I'd put up a do not disturb sign.
Finally, I was well rested enough to get an early start! I awoke at 7:30 and arrived at MK around 8:30, in plenty of time to be there for the 9am rope drop. And what would be my first destination of choice? Why, Splash Mountain! It's one of my all time favorites and I was already overdo for a visit this trip. I ended up being on the 2nd official log of the day, due to my astute observation that both the left and the right sides of the queue were open.
After my ride, I headed across the way to Big Thunder Mountain and then got a Splash Mountain fast pass (10:20-11:20) and a Space Mountain fast pass (10:25-11:25) I wondered why people would wait in the standby line when FP is available and the return time is shorter than the standby time. . . but then again, perhaps they already had fast passes to another attraction (all of them? well, doubtful. . .) and don't have alternate media for getting an illegal 2nd one. (Don't lecture me on the ethics of my doing so- in my mind, it's somehow ok for me to get a 2nd FP when I am alone since most rides often run with an empty spot anyway. No, it is not the most moral thing I've ever done but I do not believe it harms anyone and I think we've all done worse than this at some point in our lives; and furthermore, at least I wasn't constantly getting multiple fastpasses all day. Besides, if Disney had a huge problem with this practice, they could always reprogram their computers to prevent it.)
I went to the castle and inquired about availability for a priority seating for lunch- I booked one at 11:30 since the next available time wasn't until after 2. By the time I actually rode Splash and Space Mountains, it was time to eat. I got the same table against the window that I'd had once before and I enjoyed my crab and sweet corn dip appetizer as well as my main dish of poulet with campanelle pasta. I just love eating at the castle- it's so well themed. From the moment they call your Royal party to be seated throughout the meal, you feel as if you are truly in a Kingdom of Magic.
After lunch, I went to the Carousel of Progress, one of my quiet favorites, and then I decided to leave the park because the lines were getting long and I was getting a little tired. My PO bus again came quickly. I decided to pick up soda and a cookie from the food court and noticed they had an automated checkout where you can swipe your own card and not have to deal with a cashier at all. Neat! I didn't realize I had to wait for 3 copies of my receipt to print out until a CM caught up with me- ooops!
Since I had a long night ahead of me, I took a leisurely 3 hr nap in preparation. Then, I showered again, checked email, and ate the cookie I'd purchased on my way back to the room.
I arrived back at the MK at about 8 pm and my notes say "CROWDS!!!" so it is safe to assume that there were even more people than when I'd left earlier in the day. ;) I just missed a showing of the Lion King show so I walked around a bit and decided to continue with the trip's theme of visiting attractions that I usually skip. This time, it was the Hall of the Presidents.
Somehow the timing worked out so that I was able to get back to the Lion King right before the doors opened for a performance. It was as enjoyable and charming as usual. I still needed to get my E-night wristband- I asked a CM where I might exchange my ticket for a wristband and she looked at me like I was on a foreign planet. Main St. was very crowded at this point and I found a spot to watch the fireworks where I had a good view of Tinkerbell. Then, I remembered where I'd gotten my wristband in Tomorrowland for E-ride 2 yrs earlier and sure enough, they still gave them out! As I was already in Tommorowland, I went on Alien Encounter which only had a 5 minute wait.
Then it was dinner time- I went to Plaza Pavilion and had a Mickey Value meal of cheese pizza and breadsticks. I watched MSEP as I ate and then E-night had started. I first headed over to Buzz Lightyear which only had a 5-10 minute wait. I usually suck at Buzz, but I got a score of 59,600 which made me quite happy.
The rest of E-night consisted of Mountains: Space (10-15 min wait), Splash (~10 mins), BTM (~10 mins), Splash (just about a walk on), Splash (couple minutes), and Space. I just missed another ride on Space Mountain. But all in all, it was a lot of fun! This is one of the times where it can pay to be alone- the more people you have, the less quickly you can move. I mean, there is definitely something to be said for enjoying the company of friends or family- but there is also something to be said for being able to ride the mountains to one's heart's content! :)
I waited about 5 minutes at the bus stop and then a bus marked "Special" pulled up for us and for DxL people. I got into my room at 2:37. I was due to switch to CS the next day, so I called for a late checkout. I checked email briefly and then went to sleep.
Most Magical Moment: Eating lunch at the castle
Least Magical Moment: Encountering a CM who had no idea what an E-night bracelet was
After the wonderful but late E-night, I let myself sleep until 10:30 and decided to indulge in another quiet morning. By 12:30, I said my goodbyes to PO and headed on my way to Coronado Springs. They were able to honor all my room requests, though the room was not yet ready. So I decided to spend the afternoon at AK, figuring the park would get less crowded as the day progressed. I had to wait 15-20 minutes for a bus; I must have just missed one.
I headed to Pocahontas but I just missed the 1:55 show. Grrr. So I got a few fast passes (again, I do not claim that this is the most ethical behavior, but Disney apparently doesn't care about the glitch so I might as well take advantage- though I'd never hog FP's all day): Kilamanjaro Safari (2:40- 3:40), Kali River Rapids (3:25- 4:25) and Dinosaur (previously known as Countdown to Extinction; 3:30- 4:30). Then I ate a lunch of ziti and Diet Coke at Pizzafari.
By then, it was time to do my Safari, after which I got in line at Kali at about 3:25. The ride went down and I had to get out of line. Grrrrrrr. . . OK, maybe this was payback for getting too many FP's. ;) So then I headed to Dinosaur and in the process met the least friendly guest I've ever encountered at WDW. I was just walking, minding my own business, when this lady practically ran over me with a stroller. I gave her a look and figured that would suffice- either she'd make an apology or she'd ignore me. But no. She started going off on me about how it was all my fault for not walking straight (yeah sure, everyone in a theme park just walks in exact straight lines and knows they deserve to be mowed down if they do otherwise. . . NOT) and refused to take any responsibility for the fact that she could see me and I could not see her. I am usually very mild mannered, but she annoyed me to death so I kept at her. Finally, she gave me the "Talk to the hand" thing. I am still amazed at such attitude. It really put a damper on my day and I barely enjoyed Dinosaur.
At 4:25, I caught the final Pocahontas show. It was extremely hot waiting in the line but I really wanted to see it since some of the Pocahontas songs had been swirling around in my head ever since I'd started thinking of taking this trip. I was surprised to be able to make the 4:45 Lion King show; I sat in my usual section, which is the Lion one. Then I went to It's Tough to be a Bug- there was no wait but I'd just missed a show. As they finally let us into the theatre, I marveled at how people don't move all the way across the row when they are told to do so.
At about 6pm, I headed once again to try my luck at Kali since I was told my FP would be good for the rest of the day because the ride had gone down. I saw some wet people but apparently the ride had gone down again about 10 minutes before I got there. This was just not my day for Kali. I hung out awhile just in case it reopened but that was not to be; I called Coronado from a pay phone nearby in order to get my room number and then left at about 6:45 for Epcot. It was a long wait to catch the bus.
I was frankly glad to get out of AK after having several negative experiences and little magic to compensate. My first stop at Epcot was Test Track where I took advantage of the single rider line to bring the wait time down to about 30 minutes. I wanted to buy a few things at Canada but I arrived there at about 8:15, just before Tapestry of Nations which I watched from the garden in England. I was surprised that the parade went clockwise since normally the 2nd parade runs counter-clockwise but I figured that the early parade must have been cancelled (which I was later able to confirm). Afterwards, I bought the maple flavored stuff in Canada that I'd wanted. It was so close to the time for Illuminations that I decided to stay and watch it from the elevated part of the Canada pavilion. It wasn't the best view ever but it was decent for last minute and certainly better than not seeing Illuminations at all!
There were lots of crowds on the way out but they were orderly and most importantly, I did not get run over by any more strollers. :) The CS bus was waiting; I got off at the main stop and decided to take a walk around the grounds to find the room.
The first thing I did in my room was the call for my stored luggage (slightly before 10pm- I had stored it so it would not be in my hot car all day); the 2nd was to order some pizza since I was quite hungry! I also called Rob and made plans to meet up the next day. My pizza came at 10:25 and was soon followed by the luggage. I watched some TV and checked email before finally going to sleep.
My first impressions of Coronado Springs were very favorable. I thought the grounds were lovely and the room was colorful and fun- I like bright cheery hotel rooms. Everything seemed new and spiffy. Plus, my room was conveniently located near a bus stop.
Most Magical Moment: walking around CS
Least Magical Moment: stroller woman at AK
I hadn't felt all that well once I returned to my room the night before and I therefore had some trouble sleeping. At 2am, I felt that a bath might be helpful but apparently the stopper didn't work so I took a shower instead. I called and complained about this to the front desk- for the money I was paying, I ought to be able to take a bath at a whim (and I certainly wasn't going to let a mechanic in at 2am!) After finally getting up at noon, I Emailed Rob that there was a possibility I'd be late to meet him.
I walked around CS and explored in the daylight. Finding the resort even prettier during the day, I took a lot of photos. I also got change for a $10 bill so I could use the vending machines.
At about 1:45, I went to the bus stop and the Epcot bus was the last to come. It figures that since I actually had someone to meet, I had one of my longest bus waits of the trip. ;) I wish I could say that the wait was pleasant but I had to "enjoy" the company of some annoying brats and their overly permissive grandparents. I admit to not being the biggest kid fan ever, but I also am not one to call children "brats" lightly. These kids were saying things that, while not exactly dirty, were certainly not things that were fit to say in public- and frankly it was not a nice way to talk in general. Eventually the grandmother suggested they discontinue the "guy talk" (umm, no, it was not appropriate for little boys, either). I was very happy when they got on a Downtown Disney bus.
Rob and I were to meet at the food court in The Land. I sat down since he wasn't there when I arrived, but eventually I spotted him sitting down to eat with his friend. I went over and we had a little reunion and I was introduced to his friend, Joel. Rob's chocolate chip cookie tempted me to get one for myself, and it was a decision I did not regret. ;)
Rob and Joel wanted to see Lord of the Dance. I'd seen the show the previous year and didn't want to do it again, especially since the theatre is outdoors and I thought the heat might have been why I hadn't felt so well the prior night. Also, I had some sunburn (actually, I may have had a heat rash on my hands). So I decided I'd stay safely in A/C and do the American Adventure while they watched the show. That occupied me from 3:55- 4:25. Then I was able to enjoy some of the Lord of the Dance music while I browsed the nearby gift shop. In particular, I hung around the books section and looked up something regarding the Civil War about which I'd been curious. Eventually, I headed into the lobby and took some trip notes for about 5 minutes while listening to the sounds of American Vibe, a singing group. After Rob and Joel came by, they told me they enjoyed the show and the 3 of us headed to Spaceship Earth.
By then, it was time for Tapestry of Nations- Rob and I had seen it for our first times together in Dec. and we'd both fallen in love with it, so we definitely wanted to catch it together again. We went to Germany, which is our favored viewing spot, and I happened to start a conversation with a woman named Hilary who turned out to be a CM who worked in ToN 5 nights a week! We all thought it was totally cool to talk with her, especially since Rob and I had previously conversed amongst ourselves about how fun it must be to work the parade. It started to rain, so we took shelter in the shop and worried that ToN would be cancelled. Eventually it cleared up- we went outside and when we heard an announcement, we feared the worst; we were psyched when they only announced that the parade would be delayed.
During the parade, Hilary was taking photos of her friends and coworkers. The highlight for me was that I got called out to dance with one of the puppets! That was amazing beyond words. I love being picked to do audience participation stuff in general, but this was extra special since ToN is so magical to me.
We talked some more with Hilary after the parade and she was sweet enough to answer all of our questions. She was a great example of Disney magic at its best- her enthusiasm for her job shone through. She told us the "real" names for the puppets: Marionette (with Bobo), Disc Man, Aztec, Angel (who is the heaviest), Hammer (?), Shimmy (?), and Bird. Also, she said that each puppet has some choreography and personality but the CM has some leeway to add their own interpretations. She explained that the puppets are not supposed to bow to the Sage of Time because Disney does not want to be sacrilegious to anyone's beliefs. Also, she mentioned that they have spare people at Tapestry just in case someone gets sick. I've always thought I'd enjoy working ToN but alas, I found out I was too short to operate any of the puppets. At least I'd been able to dance with one this time. ;)
After parting from Hilary, we ate "fast" food at the America pavilion. The line to place orders was excruciatingly slow. I ate a sandwich of chicken, bacon and cheese which was just OK. We were able to catch most of the 2nd running of ToN from outside the America pavilion and then we walked to Morocco to see the end there. I did not feel like seeing Illuminations again so I said my goodbyes to Rob and Joel and headed over to MGM.
RnRC had too long a line for me to deal with, so I just rode ToT twice. Then I had a Mickey cookies and cream sandwich which was yummy. :) The CS bus was conveniently waiting as I left MGM. Before walking to my room again, I stopped at the hotel shop. I noticed that the tub drain still was not fixed so I had to call again and eventually, they sent someone to fix it. I ate a pop tart, checked email, and then went to sleep.
Most Magical Moment: Dancing with a puppet in ToN
Least Magical Moment: Returning to my room and noticing that my tub drain wasn't fixed, despite my calling about it earlier
It was another early day for me as I awoke at about 7:30 and arrived at MGM before opening. My first destination was RnRC- it did not start its operations promptly with the opening of the park but eventually I rode it and got a Fast Pass to return. Then I headed to ToT and had a conversation with Artie (the dad) and A.J. (his son) from VA while I was in line. I like talking to people but it got weird when Artie was asking me things like "Couldn't your boyfriend come to FL with you?" Still, I enjoyed riding with them before I parted company.
Afterwards, I got to the Beauty and the Beast show very early for the 10:15 performance so I was able to snag a great seat. Because I was so close, I noticed that Belle seemed to have a tatoo on her ankle which was visible through her stockings. At any rate, I took lots of photos and enjoyed the show as much as always.
By then, it was time for my Fast Pass to RnRC. I asked to ride up front again since there was not a long wait for the front seats- wooo! At this point, it was getting hot and I was getting tired, so I decided to head back to the hotel for a mid-day break. A bus was waiting for me as I went to the bus stop.
One of the CM's I'd talked to earlier (perhaps the bus driver that morning) suggested I talk to guest services about the problems I'd experienced with my tub. So once back at the hotel, I spoke with Stephanie from guest services. Then I went to the Pepper Market, Coranado Springs' version of a food court wherecan choose from one or more different themed counters, get your card stamped for your choice, and then and pay for everything on your way out (including a gratuity since there is limited waiter service). I got linguini with marinara sauce- they forgot to stamp my card for it which caused a delay in my paying since I am too honest to try to get it for free (see? I do have some ethics). I also had a chocolate chip cookie (though the lady first handed me the wrong kind until I told her it wasn't chocolate chip and she agreed) and a Diet Coke (which the server brought to me). The food was just OK. I think the format of the Pepper Market would work best for larger parties who want to get different foods.
When I returned to my room, I had a message from Stephanie at guest services that they took 25% off my first night because of my problems. After napping for 2-3 hrs, I checked email and then headed over to MK. I arrived there at about 6 pm, just as a performance was finishing at the Main St train station- as I was there, certain characters were performing "Making Memories"
I walked to Splash Mountain and got 2 fast passes for 8:35- 9:35. I then decided to take a leisurely railroad ride 1 1/3 times around the park, departing at Toon Town. I timed the ride and it took 20 minutes to get around the park. I strolled through Toon Town, just enjoying the atmosphere, and then got a fast pass to Pooh (9:10-10:10) and I went to Space Mountain and got another fast pass (8:15-9:15)
I wanted to see Timekeeper but it was about 14 minutes to the next showing so I got an ice cream cone in Fantasyland and then returned. Then I rode It's a Small World and thought it was wrong that there are no Canada dolls featured among the International dolls on this ride(or if there were, I missed them). I used my fast pass at Space Mountain and had about a 10 minute wait. Fortunately, I managed to cross the park before the parade to head back to Splash, which I rode twice with about a 10-15 minute wait each time. My first ride, we got stuck right before the drop for 2 very long minutes (it was the standard message about "seems Br'er Fox and Br'er bear are causing a commotion upstream"; it was just a very inopportune time since I do not love heights). My second ride, I saw MSEP from my log so I took a couple of photos; I would have taken more but the film ran out. Grrrrr. . . I clumsily managed to switch rolls during the ride but I missed the chance to take more MSEP photos nonetheless.
The parade was ending as I exited the ride. On my way to Pooh, I stopped and bought 3 beanies and had a nice chat with the cashier who was in the college program. I got to Pooh just before 10. The 15 minute FP wait seemed to move very slowly.
I'd wanted to do Dumbo but the line was still too long so I passed. I bought a photo album and also stopped at the main street bakery before leaving.
[and this is where my detailed notes end]
[written with no notes, months later]
I didn't want to leave but, alas, it was time to start the journey home. Since I had my car, I stopped at Downtown Disney on my way *sniff* off Disney property. Among other last minute splurges, I bought some socks since I was low on them and they were cute. :)
Once on the road, I soon stopped at a mall. Fittingly, I made a purchase at a Disney store- a small notebook with princesses on the cover; it will make a great journal when/if I next go abroad. (I use ultra tiny 3x5 notepads at WDW since they fit in my fanny pack)
I made it a point to stop at Cracker Barrels in every state- to fill up on Stewarts Diet Orange Cream soda. ;) (I think I had accumulated about 24 small bottles by the time I got home.) Plus, they have very nice restrooms that are located off from the store (i.e. you don't have to walk through the restaurant to get to them) In one state, I noticed a dessert listed on the blackboard specials which looked very appealing- some kind of Smores ice cream sundae, I think. I was not hungry then but I stopped in the next state and was able to enjoy it! Oh, of course I preceded it with a real meal- barbecued pork with macaroni and cheese. It was a wonderful, down home meal and I wish we had Cracker Barrels nearer to here. I was also able to pick up a map of all the Cracker Barrels so I can look them up next time I road trip.
The drive home seemed way longer than the drive down and I was thankful when it was time to get off the road and go to my hotel. I'd booked one near South of the Border, with the idea of visiting that tourist mecca when I got in. However, it was too late for that so I stayed at my Days Inn. It was convenient but. . . ummm. . . let's just say it was quite a few steps down from Disney. ;) OK, I will say it: It was a dump! I wished I'd stayed at the nicer looking Holiday Inn next door but I had to remind myself it was just a bed and just one night and it was worth saving some money. I had to unplug the phone to plug in my modem as the furnishings were all from the pre-computer era of design. ;)
I started the day by checking out (yay!) and heading to South of the Border to enjoy its cheesiness to the fullest. Part of the original allure of this trip was the appeal of seeing this tourist trap for myself. I took the ride up to the top of Sombrero Tower and bought a couple magnets, but otherwise saved my money. I was able to take a lot of pictures since I got there bright and early before it was crowded.
I continued making a point of stopping at Cracker Barrels in every state. I'd decided earlier that if I got on the road early enough, I'd make a stop at Fredericksburg to see the Civil War battlefield there. It was about the halfway point for driving and I thought I'd enjoy taking a break and getting out of the car at that point. It was something different for me and I found it more interesting than I'd expected- this was probably due to my enthusiastic tour guide. I even bought a couple books. I was lucky that even though it was overcast, it did not rain.
The rest of the ride home was pretty uneventful. Or at least I assume so since I don't remember anything of interest. [curses self for not taking notes in a timely manner] I do recall some annoying traffic near a theme park in VA, south of Fredericksburg. But in all, it was a safe, pleasant drive.
Somehow, the drive down was the most exciting part of the trip- perhaps this was because it was a totally new adventure for me. I never knew where the road would bring me, or where I'd next decide to stop. I don't know if it is something I will do again (especially the part about travelling for 17+ hrs straight- including stops- on very little sleep) but I am so glad I had the opportunity to do it once.