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Old 02-19-2008, 03:32 PM   #1
Daysleeper40
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Ooo-de-lally Tour September 2007: Day 7 (We meet the Mouse for the first time)

Monday 24th September: So where is all this Disney Magic then?

SO - those who have been paying attention will no doubt have noticed that we have reached day 7 and we have not yet set foot on Disney property. This was all about to change…

We had opted not to hire a car and as such had booked our hotels Disney Shuttle for 8.10am. The return shuttle would not be picking us up until 9.45pm - this was to be one LONG day! The shuttle stopped at two other hotels before we were on our way but it didn‘t take long to get to Epcot. We located the right bus stop and waited for the Disney transport that was to take us Animal Kingdom. We arrived at AK at about 9.10am - the overriding first impression for both of us was that it seemed much more busy at Disney than anywhere else we had been.



We entered the park (my ticket / fingerprint fears reared their ugly heads again but we had no problems which was a huge relief for all concerned!) and made our way straight to Expedition Everest. Again everywhere seemed full of people and we actually had to queue for the ride which came as a bit of a shock after all our previous walk on’s! Just goes to show that we absolutely could not tolerate Disney in peak season. I’m sure relatively speaking it wasn’t actually busy at all and I take my hat off to all those who manage it in August with kids in tow!



Anyway, we made it to the front of the queue and boarded the train. The ride was fun but we both had thought it would be more of a thriller - it was definitely tamer than expected. It was still a good ride though, and we stopped to take a few snaps before heading off to the Maharaja Jungle Trek. This featured some big bats, lovely tigers and I believe there were also some Komodo Dragons. I had my first surreal Disney moment whilst viewing the tigers - a random woman started telling me - and anyone in the near vicinity - tiger facts for no apparent reason. She had no uniform or name badge so I am pretty sure she wasn’t a “Cast member”, and I’m also unsure why she picked on me. Maybe I look a bit simple and she thought I needed help identifying the big orange stripy things…?



I do seem to attract these people - not so long ago I was stalked round Marwell zoo by a volunteer woman who kept popping up and answering questions that no one had asked at the most inopportune moment. I know they are only trying to be helpful but frankly, I find this kind of behaviour a bit unnerving and would prefer not to have twenty questions going on while I try and take photos or read the information boards. It is like being followed around a clothes store by an over-eager assistant. I don’t know about everyone else but the is nothing more likely to make me leave a shop than being asked if I “need any help”. With what? Looking? Deciding which item I like? Remembering what size I am? Do I really look that helpless that I cannot shop for myself??

So anywaaaay, we gingerly sidestepped round the crazy tiger lady and ran away, leaving her behind to hunt for new tourists to prey on and lecture about things they already know.

We emerged from the Jungle trek and found ourselves next to the Flights of Wonder show which was just about to start. We took our seats and the show began not too long after. The show was ok - I wasn’t particularly loving the host (Guano Joe or whatever his name was) and have seen some brilliant demonstrations at dedicated Hawk Conservancies in the UK so the actual flight demonstration part seemed quite limited in comparison. Still, the birds were lovely and there were some nice little moments in the show.



We hopped on the wildlife express train after the show and headed to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This included the Habitat Habit, conservation station, and meeting Rafiki and Pocahontas. We listened to the sounds of the rainforest in one of the little booths and had a good look around. The most interesting part being the glass wall of the operating theatre. They were operating on a birds leg and we both stayed and watched for a little while. I am not squeamish and find this kind of thing fascinating.



M’s stomach was rumbling and we were both getting a bit cranky at this point so we stopped for M to have a hotdog and both of us to have a little rest before taking the train back. We realised at this point that it would be wise to grab a fast pass for Kilamanjaro Safari - so we did, and were assigned a time of 1.50 - 2.50 which suited us quite well.

Next on the agenda was the Pangani Forest Exploration where we saw gorilla and hippo. I always love to watch animals but again we found these areas to be a bit busy - it was difficult to take pictures and we were both getting a little frustrated with being barged out of the way by people. I just about managed to stop myself giving a particularly brattish child a swift kick but my patience was definitely ebbing! We did the only sensible thing and lost ourselves in the Discovery Trails instead… where we found things to be much more peaceful.



We both really liked the tree of life and spent a long time just mooching around and spotting the different carvings. It is definitely a very impressive feature and worth taking some time over. We had also inadvertently timed this quite nicely for the next showing of It’s Tough to be a Bug. This was another hit with both of us - I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but if you have seen it before you’ll know what I mean when I say the little surprise at the end had us laughing a lot. We exited this area in a better frame of mind and headed on towards Camp Minnie Mickey where we bumped into Goofy, Micky, and Donald. Well I say bumped… we actually queued to meet Goofy and then surreptitiously took photos of the other two from a distance. M was wearing his Hong Kong Phooey tee-shirt and Goofy pointed it out and squared up to M with some karate style moves!



After the character greeting we had a walk through the Oasis which wasn’t particularly exciting so we headed over to Dinoland USA and the Dinosaur ride. This was good fun and was also only a short queue time - we have a really funny ride photo from Dinosaur where everyones eyes are popping out of their heads. The obviously have the moment timed perfectly for the picture! M tells me that this ride “frightened him to death” and he held on for dear life throughout! Apparently it was dark, rattled him around, and then a dinosaur jumped out and scared the bejeezus out of him… pretty impressive when you think he had no problems riding beasts such as Sheikra, and even threw himself down Der Stuka at Wet n Wild!

Our final attraction of the day was to be the Kilamanjaro Safari - we used our fast pass and didn’t have to wait too long. I enjoyed this but unfortunately we were sat on the wrong side. I learned on this holiday that it is always best to sit on the left hand side on rides... but we were sat on the right. As a result most of our photos have other peoples hands and heads somewhere in the frame. I will get round to cropping them at some point and hopefully will be able to salvage some. We did get to see some cool animals, although it does bug me slightly that you have to ride the ride to see the animals. There is no time to stop and take everything in, and I think it would be nice if there were static viewing areas as well.



After the safari it was about 3.30pm and we were both hungry again so quickly bought a magnet from the shop and headed for the Rainforest Café which we had both been looking forward to for AGES. It did not disappoint!

We loved all the theming and the fish tanks in the shop were very cool. We stepped up to the desk and the lady took our name and said we would be called shortly. We took a couple of seats at the bar and ordered a couple of well earned ice cold sodas which hit the spot perfectly. It wasn’t long till we were called and for once we were both quite decisive about our dinner choices. M had a type of surf n turf called the Jungle Steak and Shrimp,and I went for the Rainforest Paella with garlic bread. Both were lovely and against some stiff competition M has pronounced this his favourite dinner of the whole holiday. While we were eating I did a bit of people watching and spotted a man with the most ridiculously large refillable mug ever - I swear it was the size of a bucket and must have weighed a ton when full. He didn’t seem to struggle with emptying it though!!



So with our stomachs full we had another look round the shops and fish tanks before heading out with the intention of going to Downtown Disney.

NOW, this may be obvious to everyone else but I did not know that you cannot catch Disney Transport direct from a park to DTD. There was also no way of knowing which resort would be best to go to and catch a bus on to DTD so we bit the bullet and just got a cab. We were far too tired to prat about and just wanted to get going. The cab driver confused us further by asking exactly where we wanted to be dropped off - we said Market Place but for no particular reason. As it happens that was the area furthest away so obviously added to our fare. Hey ho, we would know all of this in future and it was only $20 in the end.

We looked at all of the shops at DTD and M was very happy to find an Orange Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins) football jersey - so I bought it for him with a cap as an early birthday present. I spoke to one of the shop assistants about how best to get back to Epcot for our shuttle. He told us the buses would be running up until 9.30pm and to walk to the resort nearest DTD to catch one (I forget the name of the resort now). Turns out he lied to me - but more of that later. We also got a couple of gifts for family and were a bit confused by the Disney style of service. Why does it take so long to do everything? They seem to want to study everything you are buying. I’m sure a lot of people love this but we prefer a bit of efficiency.



We then walked the length of DTD, taking in the sights of Pleasure Island and Westside. M bought a Planet Hollywood T-Shirt and we had to shelter from a brief rain shower. Again tiredness had crept up on us and it was time for a sugar and booze fix. We had two lovely desserts in House of Blues and washed them down with a couple of lagers apiece. M had cheesecake and I hade a cookie ice cream sandwich - they were both pretty special! I liked the House of Blues and got the impression that I would like the rest of the food as well.



Suitable buoyed up by the sugar we decided to have a look in Disney Quest. We played quite a few games - favourites being Buzz Lightyears Astroblaster and the Virtual Jungle Cruise. We were a little disappointed that a lot of the machines didn’t seem to be working properly - I know it is being closed down but if you have to pay to get in the least they could do is maintain the machines.

It was nearly time to head for Epcot anyway so we had a quick look in the Virgin Megastore and then started to walk towards the resort nearest DTD to catch the bus as advised by the aforementioned shop assistant. We got a bit lost on the way and asked another cast member for help - it is a good job we did as she informed us that the buses had stopped running already. It was before 9.00pm and the idiot I’d spoken to earlier had told me buses ran until 9.30pm. I thought that this was odd at the time and quizzed him about it - he ASSURED me that he was correct. If I hadn’t been so tired I would have hunted him down and done something unforgivable. Lucky for him I was that tired, so instead we paid the $11 for a taxi - and really annoyed the cab driver by having to pay with a $50 (all we had). It wasn’t the best end to what had ultimately been quite a frustrating and disappointing day.

Luckily the shuttle turned up on time and we were the first hotel drop off - where I fell into a hot bath and M fell into bed… both of us wondering where all this Disney Magic we’d heard so much about was?

The Good - Rainforest Café, Tree of Life, Tough to be a bug, and the Safari.

The Bad - To much theming, not enough substance. Neither the rides or the animal exhibits could live up to those we experienced at Busch Gardens. Park seemed crowded compared to the other parks we had visited.

The downright Ugly - Our lack of success on Disney Transport. The rudeness we encountered from other holidaymakers. The slow and cumbersome service we received and the lies of one particular “Cast Member” who should remain afraid. Very Afraid.
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Old 02-20-2008, 01:33 AM   #2
natalielongstaff
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Shame you had a bit of a dissapointing day ! on the plus side the food looks lovely
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:47 AM   #3
arieljasmine
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I'm sorry that your first Disney experience wasn't the best. House of Blues is great, if you get chance for a meal there next time, give it a whirl. I love the Dinosaur ride, it is my favourite in the world, but you wouldn't get me on any of those scary coasters you guys enjoy!

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Old 02-20-2008, 05:33 AM   #4
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Loving your reports, hope you find the magic soon...!
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:45 AM   #5
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HOB is one of my fav restaurants in DTD. If you get a chance, I'm sure you would enjoy a meal there.
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Old 02-20-2008, 02:12 PM   #6
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Sorry you had such a bad day
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:05 AM   #7
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shame you had a disapointing day
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:42 AM   #8
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I have found you need to have loads of extra time when using the Disney transport system.

We too love Rainforest Cafe and House of Blues


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Old 05-28-2009, 07:01 AM   #9
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Sorry that you didn't have a great experience with Disney. I'm hoping Disney does something to impress you later in the TR!
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