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Old 01-10-2001, 03:10 PM   #1
Rajah
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"One more time!" Day 5 -- Tues, Dec 19th -- Checkout, COLD, 1900 Park Fare, Epcot, MK, WL

WDW Trip Report -- December 14th through the 19th

Cast:
Tammi, "Rajah", primary trip planner and trip report writer. 4th trip to the World
Michael, "VonDrake", once again seriously in need of a vacation. Finals are rough on the instructors too 3rd trip to the World

Supporting Cast:
Becky, long time friend of Tammi and Michael, CM at outdoor foods at MGM
Art, new friend (this year), CM at Innoventions

Trip dates:
Thursday December 14, 2000 through Tuesday December 19th, 2000

Stayed at:
Caribbean Beach Resort Thursday through Sunday, transferring to Wilderness Lodge on Sunday

This morning dawned bright and early. Too early, if you ask me. We finally got moving around 8:40. Or, rather, this time Michael got up around 8:40 since I'd done more packing last night than he had, and I snoozed until Becky called around 9.
We decided not to try to meet up this morning since Michael and I really had no idea where we would go besides 1900 Park Fare for breakfast. Our original plan had us at Magic Kingdom today, but we weren't sure we'd end up there.
We somewhat took our time packing and lounged around, enjoying the balcony and the nice weather. I really became even more attached to the Wilderness Lodge this trip, and we seriously thought about spending the afternoon looking into DVC. It's a very good thing I'd done all that research, especially with our finances, before the trip because I knew it wasn't right for us yet, much as we'd like to "own" a piece of the Wilderness Lodge.
Bell Services finally arrived around 10 and we meandered down to the bus stop. We really took our time this time because we weren't ready to leave. But then again, are we ever?
We had the longest wait of the trip for a bus this morning, which was still only about 10-15 minutes. But apparently every bus was running behind because every stop had a lot of people waiting and only one bus came by before our Crockett bus. Either that, or we definitely hit the pre-Christmas crowds this morning.
Bus to TTC, then monorail to Grand Floridian and we were on our way to breakfast. We arrived, as usual, about 5 minutes late for our 10:30 PS at 1900 Park Fare and were seated fairly quickly. Once again, we were put in the room with the calliope. This time the breakfast had Alice, Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Pinocchio, and Gepetto. And I'm sorry to say it was quite a disappointment.
We'd been here for breakfast once before in January and the characters then were FANTASTIC. Difference was, we were there fairly early last time and definitely not at the end of the breakfast run. Mary didn't give us much attention, just said hi. Pinocchio came by and took a picture, Gepetto just waved. The Mad Hatter never made it by our table though he did come in a time or so (he's stationed in the lobby most of the time), but he also didn't really act quite like the Mad Hatter. He tried, and he did a pretty good job with the voice, but he just wasn't his enthusiastic self.
Alice was the biggest disappointment. I'm sorry, but to me that Alice was very clearly a "substitute". *I* look more like Alice than she does. Her face wasn't right, she was too tall. She acted like a stupid little girl instead of a curious and goofy one. No attempt at an accent, and very little interaction other than to walk up, wave, and say in an attempted-child's voice "Hi. Where are you go-ing to-day? Oh. Okay. Buhye." Definitely not what I'd call Alice. Our last Alice in January was the *real* thing :D
Furthermore, the food either wasn't as good as it was in January, or again Michael and I both were off our feed because nothing had much flavor. Our usual omelets weren't as good (and they moved the omelet counter so we missed them first), nor was anything we tried from the buffet.
The only thing of fun note from this particular meal, our best breakfast in January and this time our definite worst, was when Gepetto started drumming on the carousel horses and the Mad Hatter came in to tell him to stop, but started thumping another horse. Then Pinocchio rushed up to a third one to join in the fun and we had a cool percussion beat going there for a moment. Mary even joined in by clapping her hands to the beat a time or so, but they broke it up fairly quickly.
We tried to rush through this meal because we were ready to get going. Last time, we took an hour and a half in here because it was such fun. Next time, we'll go to an earlier seating and try again and hope that today was just an off day. Anyway, we finally got out of there around 11:30 because our waitress disappeared right when we wanted our check We'd debated where to go next all through the meal and were still trying to decide when we walked up the stairs to the monorail. We'd finally tentatively decided on Epcot and Animal Kingdom followed by a brief stop at Magic Kingdom if we could fit it in (we did have 6 hours)...
...then we walked outside and were shocked. When we'd entered the resort, it was overcast but a nice fall temperature: slightly warm with a nice cool breeze. When we walked out, it was durn near FREEZING! And here we were in short-sleeved shirts with only our jackets and me with my hat. Our nice warm sweaters, my gloves, and my liner for my jacket were all safely packed away back at the Lodge. We continued with our plan to go to Epcot first with the intention of doing Spaceship Earth, a favorite we'd missed so far this trip. But one look at the line (the longest we'd seen it yet) and we said no way. It was WAY too cold to stand in that wind-tunnel and brave the cold for even 15 minutes, and the wait might have been as many as 20-25 -- very long for Spaceship Earth.
So instead we decided to take a look at Innoventions East and see if perhaps Art was on duty. If so, we'd say hi. We spent a few minutes playing with the exhibits, but didn't find Art nor did we see much to really occupy our time. Innoventions just doesn't appeal to us all that much for some reason...yet. Maybe if we ever have kids to entertain, this will become a higher priority. But for now, it was back out into the cold.
Just walking past Spaceship Earth to Innoventions was enough for us to know we really needed to get a couple more sweaters, and my mom had requested one from Disneyworld, so we headed for MouseGears figuring that would be the place to find one. The only problem was between the lines, crowds, and prices we ended up wandering and wandering and finding nothing. I found two or three sweatshirts I wanted... until I looked at the price. I guess neither of us was really in the mood to spend money because despite the cold, neither of us was willing to pay so much ($60+) for the sweaters we wanted, not when we'd just purchased two already this trip.
So from MouseGears we went out in search of something warm to do and possibly a hat for Michael. Where do you go in Epcot when you want to warm up? Ice Station Cool of course!! (Huh??) Yep, that's right... despite the near-freezing weather outside, Michael had a craving for the drinks inside so we braved the *freezing* temperatures of the entrance. :D Okay, so maybe we didn't warm up with that stop, but it was still fun. Michael tried several drinks (including the Beverly to make sure it was *really* as bad as he remembered it), but I only tried the ginger ale this time.
From Ice Station Cool we really did go in search of a hat. Michael was so desperate for a warming hat that he even agreed to get a character hat if he could find one he liked. The one he really wanted was the Christmas-Mickey-Ears hat we'd found in the other parks... so naturally we couldn't find one anywhere we looked I tried to talk him into a Mad Hatter's hat, but no luck.
We finally ended up back in the Christmas tent, which was blowing all over the place in the wind, but still no sign of a Christmas-Mickey-Ears hat. We did find a normal winter cap, scarf, and glove set that he got, though, and after that he was warm enough to continue.
So we braved the cold weather once again and walked through all the characters lined up from the character bus: Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Tigger. They were all in Christmas gear, and Mickey and Minnie were even out one next to each other. I went up to take a picture (not in line, I just wanted to have one of Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas clothes) and naturally the batteries died just then on the digital -- which was the only camera I had with me. Three guesses where all the spare batteries were.... that's right, packed away neat as you please in the suitcases back at the Lodge.
I only had 11 shots left, but I would have used those 11 shots on some Christmas things if I'd had batteries. We briefly considered trying to hunt down some batteries in the park, but decided between the cold and the fact that we didn't want to spend money to get something we had back at the room, we decided against it. I just had to go without my camera for the rest of the day *sniff*
We continued on past the Aztec dancers or whatever they were in front of Mexico and headed toward the Maelstrom. But just as we weren't in the mood to spend money today, we also weren't in the mood to wait in any lines so even the posted 20 minute wait for Maelstrom was too much.
A little discouraged, and laughing about how we'd spent so long in the park and not gone on a single attraction and were about to leave, we backtracked on our way out to head for Animal Kingdom. But, when we got to Spaceship Earth, the line had dropped back down to less than 5 minutes, which was right up our alley.
A quick ride on Spaceship Earth, where I don't know about Michael but I almost fell asleep because it was so nice and warm and comfortable and that background music is so relaxing, especially when you're practically lying back on the latter half of the ride... it ended too soon and I wasn't ready to get up, but get up we did and it was once more into the cold. Only this time, the cold had added a freezing (not literally but very close to it) misting rain -- the type that stings when it comes down.
Hunching our shoulders against the cold wind and rain, we decided Animal Kingdom was out. Too much of Animal Kingdom was outdoors, and we didn't want to be entirely outdoors in this cold weather even if the animals might have been active, so it was off to Magic Kingdom.
The monorail ride was a nice respite from the cold and before we knew it, we were getting off at the Magic Kingdom (naturally after a transfer at TTC). The crowds at Magic Kingdom were definitely higher now than they had been earlier in the week, just as we'd seen at Epcot, so we decided we must be hitting the beginnings of the Christmas crowds. It still wasn't quite as bad as November, but it wasn't far off.
We worked our way down Main Street, stopping in almost every shop so we'd be out of the cold, and eventually ended up in front of the Diamond Horseshoe Review. I looked at the times for the shows, and unfortunately the next one wasn't for nearly two hours so we moved on. I wanted to try my hand at the shooting gallery just because I remembered doing so as a kid at Disneyland, so for old time's sake we braved the cold for one round of shots. One tip: look under the blankets for the coin slot for your gun... twice I saw where coin slots were covered and people ended up feeding the guns next to them. I did the same, but since no one was next to me it was easy to correct the error -- just pick up the other gun.
After our round of shooting, which wasn't as fun as Buzz Lightyear, Country Bear Jamboree was close to starting, so we packed into the waiting area and waited. That show was completely PACKED, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Besides, it was something to do that was nice and warm and inside for 15-20 minutes.
When we walked out of the theater after the show, we heard the music for the Christmas Parade which was about to start despite the rain. Since we'd just seen it twice, we decided to skip it this time so fought the crowds to the nearest cross-way we could find (up near Liberty Square) and headed for Fantasyland. By this time, we were both hungry and I wasn't about to repeat my mistake (the one I always make) of Sunday, so rather than a ride our search this time was for food. I looked at the menu for Columbia Harbor House as it came highly recommended, but it didn't have anything that appealed to either of us right now so we continued on.
We walked past Haunted Mansion and shook our heads no at the 20 minute wait, then on to Pan which got another no at 30 (but the fastpass return sign was up now, indicating Fastpass was definitely to arrive soon), too long of a wait for Small World, and then we came to Pinocchio Village Haus. I'd heard good things about the food here, despite the simple fare of hot dogs and hamburgers, and a hot dog really sounded good about now so we ducked inside. Our requirement: if we could find a place to sit down inside, we'd eat here.
At first, this looked hopeless, but I noticed a couple of tables were open and then found a staircase. With Michael nervously asking me where I was going, I trekked up the stairs to find a balcony with about 6 tables, all of which were empty. I grinned to Michael and answered back only, "Trip reports". Meaning, I'd learned of this little area from previous reports. He ahh'd back and down we went. There were tables, there was food, there was warmth, we'd eat here.
I ordered a hot dog with fries and a coke, Michael had a hamburger with fries and a coke, and we split a Figaro Fries -- I forget everything that's on them, but they at least are fries with lettuce (romaine, I think -- it was a type I could eat), cheese, and bacon bits. My hot dog was supposed to have Figaro Fries substituted for the regular fries, but we ended up with three sets. BOY were those Figaro Fries good!!
Anyway, we grabbed our food and headed for the condiment counter, then hunted down a table. Our first choice was a table overlooking Small World, and luck was with us because as we walked up, someone was vacating a table. We grabbed it right away then sat down to enjoy our food. And I will definitely be back! That was one of the best hot dogs I think I've ever had, and those Figaro Fries were DELICIOUS! Yum!! First "fast food" besides a Turkey Leg that I'd had at any Disney park that was any good, and Michael's first time eating at a counter service in Magic Kingdom.
After lunch, we walked past the almost-no-wait-Dumbo (who'd want to ride Dumbo in the freezing rain??) and waded through the sea of yellow ponchos to Pooh. The line was a little longer than we wanted and the fastpass return time was between 6 and 7-something, which was after we were supposed to be on our way to the airport, so we just left the park by way of shopping.
When we caught the boat to the Wilderness Lodge (which has moved -- it's no longer shared with the Fort Wilderness dock, so be aware) it wasn't quite 4pm and we had no room to go to. That was okay, though, because the idea of just sitting by the fire and exploring the resort really appealed to us today.
After a few minutes to warm up, we decided to do the Hidden Mickey hunt in the Lodge and went to Guest Services to request another list since our list was, once again, safely packed in the suitcases at Bell Services. List in hand, we spent most of the rest of the afternoon hunting for Mickeys. We found 7 of the 12...the only ones remaining were the 4 found on the 4 floors and one found outside by the crossroads. Those are on the list to find next trip! (Anyone have any hints? :D The ones that come with the riddle aren't very helpful)
We really enjoyed the Hidden Mickey hunt, and it took both of us to find those we did find. Half the time I found them before Michael, the other half of the time it was the other way around. We're stumped on the 4-floors ones though... I spent a good 25 minutes of our hunt searching the floors and am no closer to finding them than I was when we started. Oh well, it was fun anyway.
Just before it was time for us to be picked up, we hurried into the Mercantile for some last minute shopping: Michael and I both wanted one of those resin Totem Poles so we got one, and I found something to work on on the plane (which I naturally never opened) and some books for my dad for Christmas (Tall Tales and something else that was similar). Then we realized we had no change for tips, so I went back in and bought a post-card to break a $20, then it was time.
Our bags arrived just as our driver from Tiffany arrived, so we had good timing there. Only this time, our driver wasn't "Henry", not that we minded. This guy didn't give his name, or if he did I didn't catch it, but he was much more what I expected out of Tiffany and once again we had fun discussing park rumors on the way back to the airport.
This time, our wait at the airport went smoothly. No panic attacks, no meltdowns, nothing needed and forgotten or checked, only a mild argument with the people at the X-ray machines when I insisted the digital camera be hand-checked, no real delays. We even did some last-minute shopping at the Disney Store at the airport, picking up two Christmas ornaments (ones we'd been walking past all trip and only now decided to get) and a pin.
The flight home was also uneventful, with me working on another crossword while Michael dozed. We got home and found our shuttle easily enough, then other than trying to go out the wrong exit at the parking lot, we were on our way home from another wonderful Disney trip.


On to Restaurant Reviews

-Rajah




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Rajah and VonDrake's Honeymoon

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Old 01-12-2001, 04:16 AM   #2
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I never found those Mickey ear santa hats either. Looks like they would have made sure that there were enough. I think we must have been all around each other but didnt know it. We ate at Park Fare that morning too. We sat in the little room off the main room. It was too cold to wear my Dis shirt and I dont think I had on my green ribbons either because we were going home after that. I'm glad you had a wonderful and safe trip. Thanks so much for posting.


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Old 01-12-2001, 09:49 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear that your trip to Cindy's wasn't as good as the last time...I think most places have 'off' days...Thanks for posting...I loved reading this!! :0

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Old 02-09-2001, 10:24 AM   #4
Marla Hellwig
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Sounds like a nice way to end a trip to the world except for the cold. Thanks for posting!
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