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Old 10-25-2006, 10:33 PM   #16
TiggerAllie
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Day 2: Sunday (part 1)

Day 2: Sunday (part 1)

Another day begins much too early for vacation. Our Princess Breakfast reservation at Restaurant Akershus was for 8:50 AM. I (mistakenly) thought that Epcot had extra magic that morning, and I thought we would need to be at the bus stop between 7 and 7:15 to make it to Epcot for the rope drop. So, when the CM at the front desk told me I’d have to come down and check out in the morning, I told her it would have to be before 7 AM as we had early breakfast reservations. So, I set the alarm for 6:30 AM. Quite an “owie” for vacation. As it went off, I rolled out of bed and checked my “Master List” which had all the park hours, ADR numbers, etc. Imagine my surprise when Epcot morning EMH were actually scheduled for Tuesday! And, to top it off, I saw the message light flashing on the phone. When I picked up the message (from 6:30 that morning), it said that I could call down to front desk to inform them whether or not I was still interested in switching my room. Well, duh! You bet I am! So, I called the front desk to let them know I did indeed want to proceed with my room change request. They told me I would need to check out and check back in after 3PM. So, I finished packing, and woke up DP at 7:15.

We dragged all our luggage (ok, only 4 bags) down to the front desk. They told us that we would be given a room on the 2nd floor, Zebra Trail, but that they couldn’t tell us which room yet because it was still occupied. So, we went to leave our bags with Bell Services. We arrived at the Epcot bus stop at 8:10. That gave us 40 minutes to get to breakfast. There were people already waiting when we arrived who had been waiting for about 10 minutes already. Epcot opened at 9AM, so I figured a bus must be coming soon. We waited until 8:45 AM for a bus to come. Is it just me, or is it ridiculous that when the park opens at 9AM, a bus doesn’t come early enough for guests to arrive for the rope drop? The bus didn’t drop us off until 9:05AM. It appeared that the first Epcot bus of the day picked up guests at 8:45 for a 9 AM park opening. That to me is unacceptable.

Of course, on the (very loud) bus ride to Epcot, I was frantically trying to call Disney dining to find out if they would hold the reservation for us. (PSB requires a credit card deposit and a 48 hr cancellation notice or they charge you anyway.) The operator could barely hear me over the noise of the bus, but after being transferred to 3 different people, I was finally told that they couldn’t connect me to Restaurant Akershus or even call the podium for me, because there was no phone in Norway. No phone? In the whole pavilion? They told me they would only guarantee the reservation for 15 minutes. As the bus arrived at Epcot at 9:05, and it is quite a hike from the Epcot bus stops, it looked like we had no chance to get there in time. So, we decided to run. In flip flops.

We didn’t even make it to the bag check line before having shoe issues. DP’s shoes were really not made for running, so we switched. Luckily, the bag and turnstile lines were short. So, we went running through Future World and into the World Showcase, past the closed Food & Wine booths, the Mexico margarita stand, and over to Norway.

The pavilion was eerily empty… As I approached the podium, I was prepared to roll out the entire story of how we waited 45 minutes for a bus that never came, then ran all the way through Epcot, but it was unnecessary. The CM asked my name and put us in line to meet Ariel.

Apparently, they have a new seating strategy at PSB. They seat whole sections of the restaurant all at one time. Then, they send the parade of princesses through the room. They keep cycling through the different rooms at discrete seating times. So, after a large section of the restaurant has been seated, there isn’t anyone waiting outside until the next “batch” shows up. Then, they line you up to meet one princess (with the photopass photographer). From there you are seated at your table where 4 more princesses stop by for pictures and autographs. They don’t come back to the room until the next group is seated.

After meeting Ariel, the other princesses there were Belle, Mulan, Snow White, and Jasmine. However, since we sat down late for our “seating group” we had missed the point at which Snow White and Jasmine would have come to our table, but Belle and Mulan stopped by in short order.

But what about Snow White and Jasmine? Disney of course has an answer! There is actually a character handler CM assigned to make sure that each table has seen all 5 princesses. After the princess parade has supposedly passed your table, he comes by and asks you which princesses you’ve seen. If you haven’t seen them all yet, he makes a note of it, and they come back and make a stop just at your table. We went from feeling somewhat disappointed to exceedingly special. All in all, breakfast was fun and yummy, after a rocky start. I was disappointed that they don’t serve the food in the skillet like they used to, but it still was tasty.

Now it was time for some rides! We started with Test Track, because the line had been long in the past, but wasn’t very bad. They we went to Soarin’ to pick up a Fast Pass for later and to ride it then. The standby line was supposed to be 35 minutes long, and when we started, it didn’t really look that bad. Very quickly we got to the point where they have the pictures and trivia questions. Then, everything stopped. There are 5 different screens, and we stood in front of each of them long enough to see every single question and trivia fact at least once. It also seemed like only Fast Pass people were actually being allowed into the ride. As we were waiting to go to the pre-boarding area, we noticed that they were only using one of the 2 theaters. Then, they decided to let our group in to the previously unused “gate”. As we finally were boarding, 75 minutes after we got in line, we noticed that the pine smell was very very very strong in the pre-show area. I mean strong like you are drowning in pine-scent Lysol. Then, the projector had some issues with those pesky love-bugs. Somehow they had gotten stuck on the projector lens, so they were magnified to 10 times their normal size. Then I think some of them must have fried in the heat of the light, because they stopped crawling and looked kind of smushed. Eww. We were only slightly distracted from one of our most favorite rides, but we were coming back with our Fast Passes, so all was not lost!

Then we went and met Figment, rode the Figment ride, and then proceeded over to begin our Food&Wine tour of the World Showcase. For this portion, we began by Canada and covered the area over to Turkey (which was between France and Morocco). Our first stop was Greece: We had the spanakopita, baklava, and the Boutari Santorini wine. Yum! We skipped Canada since we were dining there later in the week. We also skipped Poland because all of the foods were things DP’s grandmother makes (she’s actually Ukrainian, but the foods are close), and there was no way it would be as good as hers. Next was Ireland: I had the Potato Leek Soup—interesting because it was clear broth with potato chunks. We also tried the Bunratty Meade Honey Wine—very good, and the Irish Cream. We skipped France for the moment, but we were able to see Belle (again) and the Beast! And even Christopher, the nice character handler CM from that morning at Norway.

Last, we had the Meze and the stuffed vine leaves at Turkey. Excellent! While in Turkey—which had done an impressive job of constructing a whole area, we watched the paper marbling demonstration. It was very impressive! They actually had a man who was an artist from Turkey who did it in the traditional style. A Turkish woman who had been living in New York City working for the Turkish government had been sent to Disney to act as a cultural ambassador and to help with the demonstration. If you have the time to see it, I highly recommend it.

It was getting to be time for our Soarin’ FastPass, and it was getting hot! We were tired and needed to head back to AKL to deal with the whole room situation. We took the boat back across the World Showcase Lagoon and walked back over to The Land for Soarin’. This time, we barely waited. It was excellent again as usual. Then we went back on the bus to AKL, fingers crossed that our new room would be an improvement.

More to come soon!
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Past Trips: (WDW) 12/13 BLT MVMCP, 10/13 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 5/13 AKL, 3/13 VWL F&G, 2/13 BCV PHM, 9/12 BWV TOTTM MNNSHP F&W, 3/12 SSR F&G, 2/12 BCV PHM, 10/11 CSR MNSSHP F&W, 3/11 AKVJ F&G, 10/10 Poly F&W MNSSHP, 12/09 SSR NYE, 10/09 VWL/WL F&W MNSSHP (PreTrip Report), 3/09 SSR, 10/08 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 6/08 SSR SWW, 11/07 VWL F&W MNSSHP, 6/07 SSR SWW, 12/06 WL/Poly MVMCP, 10/06 AKL MNSSHP, 8/06 BC USSSA-WS, 10/05 CSR MNSSHP Wilma, 2/05 ASSp, 6/03 offsite, 8/02 ASMu; (DL) 8/13 DGC DDD!, 8/12 DGC DLHM, 5/05 DLH, 6/02 offsite; (DCL, etc.) 8/13 Dream 4day-3day B2B & BLT, 1/13 Fantasy WC DFTW & BWV/BLT, 8/12 Wonder AK, 5/12 Dream 3day & BLT, 1/12 Wonder MR, 8/11 Dream Double-Dip & VBR, 1/11 Magic WC & CR; (DLP) 5/08 offsite
Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite

Last edited by TiggerAllie; 10-26-2006 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 10-26-2006, 03:06 PM   #17
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Still loving your report...

Questions...HOW did you get so see so many characters? You explained the little nook where Jiminy lives, but Figment and the Beast??? WAY cool!!

Also, thank you for explaining a bit about the Princess seating schedule. We went a few weeks ago, and boy was I miffed. We got there late, as we always seem to do, but they let us in anway. We had 11:30 lunch ressies and were about 15, maybe more minutes late. Anyway, after checking in at the podium, I took the family in the lobby to wait since it was very hot for my little Tinkerbella out side. Anyway, they didn't call our party to meet Ariel, so I inquired after they removed the little velvet rope, looking like something was over. No problem, they did miss us, but off to Ariel we go. Here's the problem. This was officially our breakfast. We are late vacation risers, so eating a breakfast before this was just silly. Point being, we are hungry. We are seated, and then went to the appetizer buffet before DD3 passed out. OK, maybe I was hungry too. I was tapped on the shoulder by a CM who asked me to sit down because Princess Jasmine was about to come to our table. I thought this strange after being there maybe 4 times and other character buffets dozens of times, I have never been interrupted in line before. I blew her off, and continued to make my baby's plate. She tells me again, and this time I turn around and search my table area. There isn't a princess in sight. I reluctantly return to my table, lunch interrupted to let my little girl have her moment with Jasmine. Well, Jasmine goes to TWO other tables first. I could have made our plates twice over. I ask the CM if she is REALLY coming over, and she was as cold and undisney as someone could be. YUK to her!

Jasmine eventually came over, as did the 4 other Princesses, Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty. OK, one more snide remark, Cinderella looked like she needed Mascara...kinda wierd. Anyway, they all came within 7 minutes of when Jasmine arrived. We didn't put one thing in our mouths until they were all gone. I mean totally gone. After reading the post, I realize they must have been in another section.... My DH and I discussed the strangeness of this event over and over. We noticed a huge section behind us empty. We thought maybe we were the last seating for lunch or something, but it was WAY to early...

Now I understand. My gripe was then and still is,a little better communication would have been appreciated. Not understanding the process made it all the more annoying.

I don't know about anyone else, but we seem to have incredible Magical expereinces our whole trip, or not. This trip was a not. We laugh about it, and the good and the bad make Disney what it is.

Did anyone notice the huge piles of dust on the white interior bricks? Several of them jut out, making a perfect landing for god knows what...

OK, rant over. Feel much better now.
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Old 10-26-2006, 05:05 PM   #18
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Dusted--

Ok, so character searching is always one of our major Disney goals. From the DIS and experience, we've been able to come up with a pretty good idea of where the characters are. Figment is usually at Journey into Imagination, either inside or outside up near where the entrance to HIStA. Belle and sometimes Beast are in France near the side that overlooks the International Gateway. We probably could have gone after more, but that was who we just "came across".

As far as magical vs. not trips, I kind of know what you mean. I would say this was a not-as-magical trip for us, which kind of bummed me out, because after all the YoMD promos, I was hoping for more magic. Oh well. We still had fun, and we'll try again in Dec!
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Past Trips: (WDW) 12/13 BLT MVMCP, 10/13 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 5/13 AKL, 3/13 VWL F&G, 2/13 BCV PHM, 9/12 BWV TOTTM MNNSHP F&W, 3/12 SSR F&G, 2/12 BCV PHM, 10/11 CSR MNSSHP F&W, 3/11 AKVJ F&G, 10/10 Poly F&W MNSSHP, 12/09 SSR NYE, 10/09 VWL/WL F&W MNSSHP (PreTrip Report), 3/09 SSR, 10/08 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 6/08 SSR SWW, 11/07 VWL F&W MNSSHP, 6/07 SSR SWW, 12/06 WL/Poly MVMCP, 10/06 AKL MNSSHP, 8/06 BC USSSA-WS, 10/05 CSR MNSSHP Wilma, 2/05 ASSp, 6/03 offsite, 8/02 ASMu; (DL) 8/13 DGC DDD!, 8/12 DGC DLHM, 5/05 DLH, 6/02 offsite; (DCL, etc.) 8/13 Dream 4day-3day B2B & BLT, 1/13 Fantasy WC DFTW & BWV/BLT, 8/12 Wonder AK, 5/12 Dream 3day & BLT, 1/12 Wonder MR, 8/11 Dream Double-Dip & VBR, 1/11 Magic WC & CR; (DLP) 5/08 offsite
Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 10-26-2006, 05:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
We also skipped Poland because all of the foods were things DP’s grandmother makes (she’s actually Ukrainian, but the foods are close), and there was no way it would be as good as hers.
I hear you! Not only was my stepfather's Mom Lithawainian, I once traveled through Eastern Europe, including a Hungarian Village which had never seen an American and had been baking and cooking to welcome us for one solid week! OMG, the food!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loving the report!
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:14 PM   #20
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Sunday: Day 2 (part 2):

We shared the bus ride back to AKL from Epcot with some folks who had clearly been enjoying the “Wine” side of Food & Wine. As our day had started very early, we were ready to get our new room and have a rest and maybe a quick dip in the pool before heading back over to Epcot for our 7PM reservation at Flying Fish.

We went to the front desk and told them that we had requested a room change. They asked to see our original room keys and looked up our reservation. Our new room number was 2427—which, as you can see from the map was on the Zebra Trail and the Arusha savannah. It was also conveniently located by the Mara and the pool! Hooray!

We happily took our new room keys and walked the short steps to our new room. Once there, we called bell services to have them deliver our 4 bags to our new room. They said they would be up in 15-20 minutes. DP laid down for a quick nap, and I went to admire our new view, which now included zebras!

We also had the wonderful surprise of a fabulous towel animal collection! Our Mousekeeper clearly had a lot of spirit, because she left a little note telling us to have a wonderful stay. We had excellent Mousekeeping the entire time—we never needed to ask for extra towels or pillows.

Sunday was a bad day for lovebugs—it was very hard to even open the door to the balcony without having them fly in. I was picking them off the sheer to keep them from infesting the room. Fortunately, that was the last day for lovebugs. Eww. The sheers almost functioned like the mosquito nets of Africa that day. I do wonder, why aren’t there screen doors on the balconies? Are they afraid people will leave them open and waste air-conditioning? Is it unsafe? Just curious. They weren’t screens on the BC balconies either, but they had real doors instead of sliding glass.

Ok, so 30 minutes have gone by, and no sign of our luggage. So, I called down to bell services again. They say, “2427? Oh yes, the bellman just left the desk here. It should be up shortly.” 15 more minutes go by. I call back again. “Hi, it’s been 45 minutes, and no one has come with our luggage.” “Oh,” she responds. Let me check into it.” So she puts me on hold. After a while, she comes back and says, “Oh, he took the work order, but never actually brought the luggage. That’s why I thought it must be on its way. I’ll send someone with it right away.” So, an hour after I first call for the luggage, it shows up. This means no time to go to the pool. So, I unpack, and wake up DP to get ready for dinner. Now that we are so close to the Mara, I run downstairs to get a quick refill of soda in our mug. I am very excited that they now have 2 styles of mugs—the big cylinder, as well as the tall one that fits in a cup holder. We have so many of the big ones, we decided to get the tall one instead. Literally, I walk out of our room, cross the hall, head down some stairs (that are almost backstage, but not quite), exit the stairwell, turn right past the arcade, and I’m the Mara. Hooray!

Now, it’s on to Flying Fish for dinner. We decide that since its past AK closing time (for a bus-transfer there), our best bet is to take the bus to Epcot, walk through to the International Gateway, and then either walk or boat to the Boardwalk. After our heinous bus experience that morning, we leave even more time to complete this semi-complicated transportation. Fortunately, things went smoothly this time, and we were even able to take the boat from IG to BW. I love that Disney has so many different kinds of transportation. My goal is to ride all of them while we visit. So far we’ve hit busses (a new one for me), trains, and boats. We still have to get on the monorail!

We got to the Flying Fish a little early, so they gave us a beeper and told us we could walk around the Boardwalk for 15-20 minutes until it went off. We were barely out of the door, heading over to the shop across from the boat landing, when the beeper went off! The Flying Fish has very cute décor, styled after Coney Island. The Flying Fish, they told us, was actually a rollercoaster at Coney Island. We ordered some cocktails and the Ahi Tuna Tataki, which was excellent! Then, the chef decided that, based on our order, we needed a palate-cleanser before the main course, so he brought us complimentary strawberry-guava sorbet. We then had wine and the potato-wrapped snapper and the current salmon dish (I can’t remember exactly what it was. There was another fish over risotto that sounded good, but it had too much pea in it, so based on the waiter’s recommendation, I went with the house specialty snapper.) Finally, we shared the white chocolate strawberry “cosmo” for dessert. It really was a mousse dessert, not a martini!

After our excellent meal, we realized it was early enough to catch Illuminations. That was great, because it wasn’t on our list of “must-sees” for this trip. It was just a few minutes from beginning as we walked in the IG. We were able to snag a pretty good spot across from Canada to watch the fireworks. Magic Kingdom had EMH that night, so we thought about going over for that, but we decided that it would be better to get a bit more sleep.

We headed back to AKL by bus. Since we missed out on swimming that afternoon, we decided a quick trip to the hot tub was in order. They were surprisingly busy. The closer one was full, but we found some room in the farther back one. The pool area was very nice, and we had a nice, warm, relaxing time before heading up to bed in our new, excellent room!

Finally, we didn’t have anything scheduled for the early morning, so we are able to sleep in! Hooray!
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Upcoming Trips: (DCL, etc.) 8/14 Dream DVCM & VWL, VGF, 9/14 Wonder Double-Dip & VGF, 1/15 Fantasy EC; Tentative Trips: (WDW) 2/15 ? PHM, 3/15 VGF; (DCL) 6/15 Magic Europe,
Past Trips: (WDW) 12/13 BLT MVMCP, 10/13 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 5/13 AKL, 3/13 VWL F&G, 2/13 BCV PHM, 9/12 BWV TOTTM MNNSHP F&W, 3/12 SSR F&G, 2/12 BCV PHM, 10/11 CSR MNSSHP F&W, 3/11 AKVJ F&G, 10/10 Poly F&W MNSSHP, 12/09 SSR NYE, 10/09 VWL/WL F&W MNSSHP (PreTrip Report), 3/09 SSR, 10/08 SSR MNSSHP F&W, 6/08 SSR SWW, 11/07 VWL F&W MNSSHP, 6/07 SSR SWW, 12/06 WL/Poly MVMCP, 10/06 AKL MNSSHP, 8/06 BC USSSA-WS, 10/05 CSR MNSSHP Wilma, 2/05 ASSp, 6/03 offsite, 8/02 ASMu; (DL) 8/13 DGC DDD!, 8/12 DGC DLHM, 5/05 DLH, 6/02 offsite; (DCL, etc.) 8/13 Dream 4day-3day B2B & BLT, 1/13 Fantasy WC DFTW & BWV/BLT, 8/12 Wonder AK, 5/12 Dream 3day & BLT, 1/12 Wonder MR, 8/11 Dream Double-Dip & VBR, 1/11 Magic WC & CR; (DLP) 5/08 offsite
Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite

Last edited by TiggerAllie; 10-27-2006 at 06:24 AM. Reason: It would help if I got the room number right. 2427.
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Old 10-26-2006, 11:11 PM   #21
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Wow - your second room sounds like it's exactly where I REQUESTED our room - now, if only that's what we get tomorrow!

Thanks for the excellent Trip Report - I wish I could read it through to the end of your stay - but I have to wake up 7 hours from now and go start a trip of our own! Our plane leave in less than 10 hours . . . . and as the little kid in the WDW commercial says: "I'm too excited to sleep".

Fingers crossed that we get the room & view we're hoping for -

"I'm going to Disneyworld!"

-Derek

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Old 10-31-2006, 09:08 PM   #22
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Day 3 Monday (part 1)

Day 3 Monday Columbus Day (part 1)

We put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, closed the drapes real tight (goodnight giraffe, goodnight zebra), and slept as long as we could. Our planned event for today: Lunch with an Imagineer at the Hollywood Brown Derby in MGM. We had read about this opportunity on Allears. That was scheduled for 11:30, so we figured if we arrived at the AKL bus stop at 10:30, that would give us enough time in case the busses were slow again.

When we arrived at MGM, we saw a number of characters out around the hat: Daisy Duck, Chicken Little and Abbey Mallard, and Mickey Mouse and Goofy in Year of Million Dreams outfits (like from the Dream Along with Mickey castle stage show). However, since we had needed to sleep in, we didn’t leave any time for characters—it was off to Lunch with the Imagineer!

Our Imagineer was Joe Wilson. He worked in the visual arts area of Imagineering (art and design) as a “principal concept designer”. He was actually trained in interior design. As many as 8 guests can dine with the Imagineer in the Bamboo Room at the Brown Derby. We met a brother and sister from TN as well as a very “interesting” family from UK (mom and 2 sons).

First—the food: It was quite a spread for lunch! First, we had Mulligatawny Soup. Second came the “individual” classic Cobb salad (which was big enough to be a meal in itself). Third, we were given the choice of 3 entrees: NY strip steak, Thai noodle bowl with chicken, or pan-fired grouper. I had the grouper and DP had the noodle bowl. Both were excellent. Finally, we were served a vanilla crème brûlée for dessert. All of it was excellent, though way more than any one person needed to eat, especially for lunch! I also learned about a yummy new non-alcoholic drink: the Arnold Palmer—half lemonade and half ice tea. (Can I just say here that I love that they serve Minute Maid Light lemonade at Disney!)

Next—the company: Joe was very interesting. We learned that there are about 20 imagineers who volunteered for the Lunch program, and it happens 3 times a week (Mon-Wed-Fri), so he gets a free lunch about every 7 weeks or so. If you ever wondered about how Disney puts together the ideas they come up with out in Glendale, do this lunch! We learned all about the artwork and design he has done, including the poster he did for the American Adventure. You can see it at the attraction in Epcot and still purchase the poster in the gift shop.

As far as the other guests go, the TN-ans were similar to us, in that they were Disney lovers who had a interest in knowing more. (They had a particular love of the Haunted Mansion.) Now the Brits… they were another story. They were all in film school and had made films together. They kept pushing Joe to tell them how to get a job in filmmaking at Disney. They wanted him to write and put in a good word for them. They were very pushy at lunch, and kept talking about how this meal/interview(?) was the highlight of their trip. Since Joe wasn’t really in that department, he didn’t really have any good answers for them, but they weren’t phased. Sadly, I’m not sure they really knew what they were doing, because apparently they told the TN-ans (as they told us later) that they had been to Disney Quest and “met with the Animators there and had an interview”. To our new friends from TN, this sounded like they had been talking to the people who run the “learn to drawn the characters” area on the lower floor of Disney Quest. Joe told us that there aren’t any Animators in Orlando anymore (they used to be part of this Lunch series as well)—all of that work, along with the “blue sky” ideas that may never come to fruition, is done in Glendale, CA. Once it makes it to Orlando, they know they want it to happen, they just need to figure out how to “make it work”, as Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say.

At the end of the meal, we were given a nice plate personally inscribed by Joe. I highly recommend this experience!

Next, we headed back to AKL to meet up with my aunt and uncle who live in Orlando. They had never been to AKL before. The one time my aunt had been to Animal Kingdom was right after it opened, and they didn’t have any live animals, just fake ones. Apparently, when AK first opened, they had lots of trouble taking care of the animals because they didn’t have any experience in that area. I guess it was all over the Orlando newspapers as a big scandal. How surprised were my aunt and uncle to see how far Disney has come!

We walked all around AKL—we showed them our room and the pool area. We went to look at all the different savannahs. We went out to the Arusha rock area to check out the Arusha savannah, we walked to the end of the Zebra trail to see the baby giraffe and the ankole cattle on the Uzima savannah, and finally, we walked out to the end of the Kudu trail to see the infamous FECAL FLATS.

I'm leaving you all in suspense for the next installment:
"The Secret of Fecal Flats"
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 11-01-2006, 09:36 AM   #23
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Can't wait for your next installment!
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:21 PM   #24
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The Secret of Fecal Flats (Day 3 part 2)

The Secret of Fecal Flats

We had walked down to the end of the Kudu trail to show my aunt and uncle our “bad” view. While admiring the chain-link fences, we saw 2 of the animal care-takers pull up to the fenced-in area with a truck.

They saw us standing in the exterior stairwell at the end of the Kudu trail. “Hi! You’ve picked a great place to stop and watch the animals! No one usually comes out here, but we have a secret project that we’ve been working on.”

It turns out that Disney had started a secret colony of Red River Hogs in 2004.

There are only about 100 Red River Hogs in captivity in the world. None of these Hogs were in “mixed species” environments. So, when they first brought the hogs to AKL, they kept them in the small fenced in area. The other animals stayed away from the fenced in area (i.e. Fecal Flats). Over time, they became used to the hogs and began to return to that area. (Albeit, to poop.) Disney was worried that the other animals might be aggressive with the hogs. Or, that the giraffes wouldn’t see them and would kick them. Because the giraffes are so much bigger, even an unintentional kick could do a fair amount of damage to the much smaller hog. Eventually, they released the hogs from the fenced in area. The hogs seem to know how to stay out of the giraffe’s way and are doing alright.

So, they started with 3 hogs—1 male and 2 females. Well, the hogs have done very well at AKL, and now the (polygamist) male has 2 families, as each female has had a litter of piglets. Now there are 10 hogs! That means AKL has 10% of all the Red River hogs in captivity. However, the 2 females, now that they both have litters, do not get along. So, only 1 family of hogs can be let out onto the Savannah at a time. The male gets to come out every day, and the other mom and piglets stays inside. They still have all the fencing up because they have a complicated system to bring one hog family out and send the other hog family in.

So, the secret of Fecal Flats is that it is the special secret hideaway for Red River Hogs. The hog project used to be so secret that you couldn’t find any information on the hogs. While they are still not listed on the “animal-finding” sheet that is provided in the rooms, they are featured on the AKL TV channel that shows all the animals. The hogs don’t really leave the “Fecal Flats” area at all, even though they are free to roam the Sunset savannah.

So… the verdict on the Fecal Flats is: Great for breeding hogs, not so great for guests.

We also went to the exterior stairwell at the end of the Zebra trail and saw the baby giraffe. And, we saw an Elan up close at Arusha rock.

My aunt and uncle had to head back home. We decided that, since we had only been to the Magic Kingdom for maybe 20 minutes of Spectromagic, and it was already the third day of our trip, we needed to get to MK!
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 11-04-2006, 12:15 AM   #25
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Those outdoor staircases are GREAT for animal viewing!

I agree that the rooms in the Fecal Flats area shouldn't be charged full savannah view price!
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May 2000 - Poly & DCL * May 2001-WL, PO-R & ASMo * Dec 2001- PO-R, AKL, Poly, and WL * Nov 2002 -ASMu,Poly and PO-R * Dec 2004- ASMu, WL, PO-FQ, Poly, and PO-R * Dec 2005- ASMu, OKW and the Swan * Feb 2006- Pop Century * Jan 2007- ASMu, WL, AKL and BCV* Oct 2007-AS Sp,OKW, BCV, POR * Dec 2007- Gave up and moved there!

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Old 11-09-2006, 02:20 PM   #26
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Thanks for your review! Really enjoyed it.
Also, thanks for your tips on my post about AP,CG or Jiko! I'm still working on trying to fit all of them in! After reading about Flying Fish we'd like to get there too! I know it's just tooo much!

I have a question about Princess Breakfast at Akershus. Do I understand that it wasn't served family style anymore?
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Old 11-09-2006, 03:52 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shovan
Thanks for your review! Really enjoyed it.
Also, thanks for your tips on my post about AP,CG or Jiko! I'm still working on trying to fit all of them in! After reading about Flying Fish we'd like to get there too! I know it's just tooo much!

I have a question about Princess Breakfast at Akershus. Do I understand that it wasn't served family style anymore?
I promise... I will write more soon! My friends and I are trying to turn our hobby of crocheting into a small business-- we have our first craft show booth this weekend! As soon as that's done....
I need to get it finished before we go on the next trip in Dec!

PSB is still served family style, all you can eat. It's just served on large serving plates, instead of in those cool iron skillets.
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 11-25-2006, 12:47 PM   #28
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Alright... our next Disney trip is only 7 days away, so I have 6 days to finish writing this trip report....

Now that we're stuffed with turkey, this may be a good time.

I'm starting to feel like Kimmar!
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:47 PM   #29
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Finally finishing Day 3...

The end of Day 3

Finally… first I want to apologize for taking so long to finish this report. I’m starting to feel like Kimmar, but with no good excuse! My reason: my friends and I have started a crochet “business,” and we had our first craft show recently! We actually sold a number of necklaces, scarves, and hats! The goal is to use our hobby to make money to fund our Disney vacations…

Alright. We’ve been at WDW for 3 days now, and we’ve only been to Magic Kingdom for 20 minutes to see Spectromagic. This is definitely wrong. While the goal was to have a non-commando-style trip, I did realize that it is important to get to all the parks in the first couple of days. Otherwise, we start to feel like we can’t relax because we are not seeing the parks! Having to wait for bus transportation and lacking the flexibility of a rental car did not help.

I think these choices affected my impression of AKL at first—as I have thought about it more, I realize this had nothing to do with AKL, so I will not let it cloud my opinion of the hotel, which we really did like. The few things that I did not like about AKL were: the glare in the lobby, the fact that you had to go outside to get to The Mara, the fact that some of the rooms were quite a hike from the lobby even if they were all in the same building. The things I liked: the décor/theme, the animals, the room, the food (and we didn’t even get around to trying Boma!), and the fact that the hotel is all in one building (we could walk to the lobby without going outside). I would like to stay here again, but I think we need to try some more hotels first. We are hoping to try them all! I think we may be waiting until after we see what happens with the DVC construction at AKL. I do want to go on the Sunrise and Sunset safaris eventually. We’ll just have to drive out to Boma on our next trip and take that opportunity to see the animals and try some of the other things we missed. I’ll probably go over that at the end of the trip report (if I ever get there!).

Ok—so we are off to the Magic Kingdom to soak in some Disney-ness! We were able to bypass the bus on this trip as my aunt and uncle offered to drop us off at MK—actually at the Contemporary Resort, so it was a quick walk into MK.

As we entered the park, they were rounding people up for the “Family Fun Day Parade”. We decided to skip on through to Adventureland to meet some characters! We were scheduled to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party the next night, so we thought we would get a head start on character-hunting!

First, we met Captain Hook, who was having a scurvy time interacting with guests. He sure is a troublemaker! (Unfortunately, that leads to long character lines!) We did get to see some of the Pirate Tutorial. It was a fun time and had a lot of guest interaction. After Captain Hook, it was time to ride the “new and improved” Pirates of the Caribbean! I thought the new beginning of the ride was great! The projection of Davy Jones on the steam really looked like you were going to go through a waterfall and get wet!

After POTC, we met Wendy. She was hiding from Captain Hook around the backside of POTC. After this, we went over to the Castle front court to see the new show: Dream Along with Mickey. I would say this show was disappointing. It won’t be “one for the ages.” In fact, I think they might regret the new blue costumes. They looked dated even though they were brand new! Sadly, though, it was a step up from Cinderellabration. I hated Cb. I thought it was stupid and didn’t live up my expectations in any way shape or form. The new show used exactly the same stage set. (I still don’t get the fireworks in the daytime.) It was nice to see some characters beyond the Princesses in the show. I did feel like they were pushing the “pirate/princess” theme already. The new castle show was PP-themed, the new interactive shows are PP themed (Pirate tutorial, Let’s have a ball), and I’ve even heard that the Flower and Garden show is PP-themed! I’m afraid of being overwhelmed…

Next, we rode the Jungle Cruise. Our skipper was Shanti (sp?) who had an excellent sense of humor and sarcasm—perfect for the Jungle Cruise! After that, we were back to character hunting. Buzz Lightyear was out in front of Carousel of Progress. Abbey Mallard was in front of the Toontown sign. We made a quick detour at this point through Pooh’s Playful Spot. We had learned earlier that day from Joe at the Imagineer lunch that there was a “tribute” to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which still exists somewhat behind Pooh’s). To find it, we had to climb inside the tree. I think a number of parents and children were a bit confused as to why 2 grown-ups were crawling into the tree, but after scouring the walls we found the Nautilus!

You can just make out the shape of a submarine as an indentation in the wall above the entrance to the tree.

Previously, we had heard tales of the glorious Chicken Strips at Cosmic Ray’s. In July, we gave these a try—they were excellent! Now it was time to put the Pinocchio Haus Chicken Strips to the test… and they were just as excellent! While Sonny Delight was amusing, I think we prefer overlooking the Small World boats or sitting in the Figaro room (hooray for cats!).

Sidenote: With the demotion of Pluto, will they have to change the Planetary Boogie?

We finished off the night with Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Here's our view:

We try to see the SFR tree house every time we go, because eventually it will be overtaken by Tarzan, like the one at Disneyland. We stayed for a viewing of Wishes, did some shopping, and went to bed. Tomorrow would be an early day, because we had a Segway Tour scheduled at Epcot! We didn’t want another replay of the Princess Storybook Breakfast debacle, so this time we would be prepared for slow Epcot busses.
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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Old 11-30-2006, 10:14 PM   #30
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Day 4: Part 1

Day 4: Segway Day!

Today we had to be up bright and early to get to EPCOT to go on the Around the World Segway Tour! Fortunately, we did not have trouble with the AKL busses this morning. We arrived at EPCOT with plenty of time to reach Guest Relations—where we were supposed to meet up for the tour. It was actually EMH that morning, so they were telling folks to run over to Mission Space or Test Track to get fast passes. We decided to take a quick shopping trip to MouseGear instead. Once everyone had assembled, the Guest Relations cast members led us all to Innoventions, where we watched a video about the Segways. Then, it was time to practice on the Segways indoors. Surprisingly, they were fairly easy to use. First they have you go forwards and backwards and turn around. Next, we went up and down a ramp. Also, we learned how to slalom between some cones. Then, we had to practice getting off the Segway and leading it over an obstacle. Last, we did the Limbo on our Segways! Finally, they let us out into the unsuspecting crowds!

We had to start in a single file line between our two guides until we reached the closed area of the World Showcase. Once there, we had 3 different areas of “obstacle courses” to go through: the gardens in China, the gardens of Japan, and then a “free for all” out in front of Italy. This was our opportunity to push the Segway riding to our limit! I found my limit alright, when I almost crashed into the Champagne stand! Oops… I got going a little too fast and forgot that leaning backwards makes you stop! Actually, the Segways have different color keys that determine how fast you can go on them. Our keys only let us go a maximum of 5.5 miles/hour. We got the classic Segway Tour photo out in front of Italy!

The Segway tour was so awesome! Everyone should do this tour! By the end of the 2 hours, my legs were a bit stiff from using only my feet to control the Segway. However, I totally want to do the tour again!

After the Segway tour, we walked over towards the International Gateway. We stopped and had a few Food & Wine snacks. We decided to try the Italy to Turkey third for this trip through F&W. First, at Italy, we tried the Eggplant Timbale, which was tasty. Next, we tried the Lobster Roll at the USA booth—I haven’t been to the Northeast in quite some time, so this brought back some memories. Finally, we split a Pistachio Baklava from Morocco. I think in the end Greece had the better baklava. (Being from southeast Michigan, we have pretty extensive experience with Mediterranean/Arabic food.)

Since we did not get to see the characters at MGM yesterday before lunch, we decided to take the boat from the IG over to MGM. DP was very disappointed that we did not get to see Daisy yesterday, but today made up for it! We also saw Chip and Dale and Clarice (but we couldn’t get their autograph).

Finally, we met Woody over by Al’s Toy Barn! Lightning McQueen and Mater were also driving around. They had already started putting up the Osbourne Lights on some of the streets. After this character hunting, we decided we needed to go back and take a quick nap before Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

We stopped at the Mara to fill up our mug and…. Drumroll….. try the ever-heralded ZEBRA DOMES! The ZDs actually came with another interesting treat called Chocolate Crunch. We whisked them up to our room (can I once again say how convenient our new room location was?) to try them!

I have to say, I think I preferred the Chocolate Crunch to the Zebra Dome… Sacrilege, I know! I think it was the higher chocolate to mocha ratio… However, they were both quite excellent!

DP napped while I finished sewing the end of my MNSSHP costume and watched the animals on the savannah from the balcony.

Next up… MNSSHP!
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Childhood trips: (Me) 12/95 offsite, 5/87 offsite, 4/80 DL offsite; (DP) 7/90 GF, 4/88 CR, 11/80 offsite
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