|01-07-2010, 08:19 PM||#1|
Operating under the influence of Colin Farrell's eyes
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Boston and the Boardwalk Villas
TLinden16's December Adventure--Magical Memories with Amazing Friends!
Day 1--Thursday, December 3, 2009
Hard Rocking my way to Universal Studios
At last my long-awaited 8th annual December Disney trip was here! Each December, I fly down to Disney World to spend time with some of the friends that I have met over the years. I am very lucky and blessed to have found such a wonderful group of friends. We always have a lot of laughs, and make lots of magical memories together.
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready to head to the airport for my 7:00 a.m. flight to Orlando. The towncar arrived right on time at 5:00 a.m. for the ride to Logan Airport in Boston. I dropped off my bag, and quickly made my way through security. I grabbed a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast, and made my way to the gate.
My flight took off on time, and it was a surprisingly smooth flight considering the stormy weather that was covering the northeast (it was pouring rain when we left Boston). My flight arrived in Orlando a bit ahead of schedule, and I made my way to baggage claim. My bag was one of the first off the plane, and I had my bag in hand by the time my SUV driver arrived at baggage claim to meet me.
My driver Ed drove me over to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios, where I would be spending the first night of my trip. Check in was quick and easy, and my room was ready! I was upgraded from a standard room to a garden view room. I was in room 4082, which was at the end of a short hallway. My room overlooked the boat dock and a small grassy area. The hotel was very peaceful. I never saw or heard another person on the hallway where my room was located.
The room itself was very roomy. It had two double beds, an arm chair and ottoman, and a small table. The bathroom was the typical size, but it had a nice sink area outside the bathroom. It was neat looking at the pictures of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other musicians hanging on the walls of my room. There were lots of neat little details that fit in with the theme of the resort. I would definitely stay here again, and would try to stay for more than one night next time.
After dropping off my bag, I headed out to walk to Universal Studios. I went to guest services to turn in the voucher for the free ticket I won in the Super bowl promotion last winter, and then walked over to the Hard Rock Café to grab some lunch. I started off with a ceasar salad, which had a tangy and peppery dressing, and very yummy croutons. I then had the hickory bbq bacon cheeseburger, which was one of the best burgers I have ever had. It had a thick slice of the best bacon I have ever tasted, and was big and juicy. It was cooked to perfection! I was sitting in the bar area, and the bartenders were attentive and pleasant (and got a sizable tip).
After lunch, I headed over to Universal Studios. My first stop was ET, which was broken down the last time I visited Universal. When I walked up, once again, it was broken down. I have bad ET karma, because it always seems to be broken down when I go. They were expecting it to be working later.
There were some characters right outside the ET attraction, and there was no lines so I decided to get some pictures. Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, and Wood Woodpecker were all there.
I then made my way to go on the Simpsons ride, which was a lot of fun. I really love walking around the area where the Simpsons ride is. They did a really nice job on the theming, with the Kwik E Mart, and the entrance to the ride through Krusty the Clown’s mouth--Krusty even had a Santa hat on!
I then went on Men In Black. I was in a row by myself, so I shot the aliens with two guns. I then headed over to the Mummy, which I road twice. This roller coaster is a lot of fun, although it’s a bit short. But they did a nice job on it considering the space they had to work with.
I also spent some time checking out the balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that were scattered around the park. It was neat seeing them in person. I have to say that most of them were smaller than I thought they would be.
At one point I asked a Universal employee to take a picture of me standing in front of the Grover from Sesame Street balloon. I do not think this woman ever used a camera before in her life because it took five minutes for her to take a picture, and then she said, “I want to take one more of you with that monster thing in the back.” I guess she didn’t know what I meant when I asked her to take my picture with Grover.
It took a while, but I did get a decent picture with Grover
I then headed over to Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. It opened at 2:00 that day, and virtually everyone in the park was headed there. I wound up jumping in the single riders line. The ride broke down while I was in line, so I had a long wait to get on the ride. When we were close to the loading area for the ride, the group of four men who were in the single rides line behind me slid over into the main line, cutting out about 20 minutes of waiting for them and allowing them to ride together. I have to say that rude people who think they are more important than anyone else really annoy me.
The roller coaster itself was a lot of fun, and very intense. You have to pick the song you want really quickly, though. I didn’t pick mine fast enough, and had to listen to some rap song that I wasn’t familiar with.
After my ride on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, I started to make my way over to Disaster. Along the way, I ran into Shrek and Donkey, so I had my picture taken with them. It was a lot of fun watching Donkey talking to people. He was really funny.
It was a lot of fun watching people react to Donkey and Shrek.
I then headed over to Disaster, which I really enjoyed. The director character was really something else! I was very amazed by that special affect. It was probably the best special affects show I have ever seen, and we had great audience participation.
After Disaster, I headed over to Jaws, which I usually skip. It’s just too hokey. I took another ride on the Simpsons ride, and finally got to go on ET! It’s been so long since that was working when I tried to go on it that I can’t remember the last time I saw it!
I then went on the Jimmy Neutron ride, which was cute, but I liked the old Hanna Barbera ride better. I also saw Shrek 4D, which was good, but not something I would go see every trip.
I then headed over to City Walk. I went to the gift shop at Pat O’Brien’s to by a gift for my sister (whose name is Pat O’Brien). I was thinking about going to the piano bar at Pat O’Brien’s, but changed my mind.
I wound up taking advantage of Universal’s Meal and a Movie Deal. For $21.95, you got a meal from a limited menu at one of the City Walk restaurants, and a ticket to a movie at the theatre. I had dinner at the NASCAR Sports Grille. I got the Chicken Ranch Salad The salad was a bit on the bland side, but good enough. It could have used some barbecue or buffalo sauce to zest it up a bit. Again, I sat in the bar area, and had an excellent bartender serving me.
After dinner, I decided to go back to the hotel and change into jeans before going to the movie, as the temperature had dropped quite a bit now that the sun had gone down. I wound up taking a pedicab back to the hotel, which was fun. I had a really nice driver who was born in Massachusetts. He mentioned that he was heading to Boston to visit his father the day after Christmas. It turned out that his dad lived in the city where I grew up less than a half mile from my childhood home. Even at Universal, it’s a small world sometimes.
After changing into jeans, I headed back to City Walk to go to the movie. I decided to see New Moon. I arrived just a few minutes before the show started, and I was the first one in the theatre. By the time the previews were over, there were seven people in the theatre, and two of them wound up walking out after the previews. Annoyingly, one of the couples who were in the theatre decided to sit in the row behind me and proceeded to comment and laugh inappropriately throughout the movie. The movie itself was good, but I really wish they had picked different actors to play Jacob and Bella (which I also said after the original Twilight movie).
I love this nighttime shot of one of the Macy's balloons at the entrance to Universal Studios
After the movie, I grabbed a Cinnabon, and walked back to the Hard Rock Hotel. I ate some of the cinnabon, and went to bed.
|01-07-2010, 08:27 PM||#2|
Operating under the influence of Colin Farrell's eyes
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Boston and the Boardwalk Villas
Day 2--Friday, December 4, 2009
Rainy Day with the Grinch and Mr. Scrooge
I was up bright and early to get ready for my breakfast with the Grinch at Confisco’s at Islands of Adventure. I was ready long before I had to head to the park, so I decided to walk around the Hard Rock Hotel and look at some of the memorabilia. They had some neat costumes and instruments in the lobby and near the elevators. My one complaint was that it was difficult to read the captions that were on the glass at the display cases. I wound up not reading about most of them because they were so difficult to read. It was fun to explore the resort, though. I had wished I had more time.
After dropping off my bags with bell services, I made my way to Islands of Adventure for my 8:15 reservation for the Grinch character breakfast. It was pouring rain as I made the solitary walk to Islands of Adventure. I didn’t encounter another person on my walk until I got to the front gates of Islands of Adventure.
Once through the gates, I made my way to the restaurant, and was greeted with a warm welcome for being the first guest for the Grinchmas character breakfast in 2009. I was seated at a table close to the buffet with a good view of the entire restaurant, which was nice, as it was a lot of fun watching the Grinch interact with all of the diners. Wendy Who, Baubles Who, and the Cat in the Hat were also at the breakfast. The Cat in the Hat never made it to my table, but the other characters came by several times.
At one point, the Grinch came over to me and I snapped his picture. He said, “Now you can put it on your facebook page.” Later, the Grinch came and sat at my table. I raised my glass, and said, “To the Grinch.” The Grinch picked up my other glass and said, “To me.” He tried to order Salmon En Croutte for breakfast, but the waitress wouldn’t get it for him. He also made fun of my green eggs and ham.
To the Grinch!
The food was good, but would have been better if it had been a bit warmer. They had green eggs and ham sandwiches, which were very tasty, and Mount Krumpet rice krispy treats, which I didn’t try. My favorite item on the buffet was the cinnamon French toast, which was so good it didn’t need syrup. They also had excellent fresh fruit.
I shall eat them in a theme park
I shall eat them with my friend Mark
I sure do like green eggs and ham
I sure do like them, Karen I am
After breakfast, I headed over to the Hulk roller coaster, which I road on twice. I was glad that I went on it early in the day, as it was closed most of the day due to the rain.
I also went on the Spiderman ride twice. This is probably my favorite ride at Universal. The ride experience is just fantastic. I also went on Dr. Doom’s Fearfall.
I wound up bypassing the two main water rides. I was already getting drenched from the rain, and didn’t think that I needed to get more wet on these water rides. I then made my way to Jurrasic Park. It was raining steadily, and no one else was in the line so I wound up riding it all by myself.
I then headed over to Dueling Dragons. I road both of them two times each, including once in the front row on each of them. It started raining pretty hard while I was on the coaster, and it stung as the rain pelted my body.
I also spent some time looking at the workers working on Hogwarts Castle. I can’t wait until they open the Harry Potter area. The castle looked very impressive, and it’s not even done yet.
I then headed over to see the Poseidon show. I had just missed a show, so I decided to go over to the Cat In the Hat. This ride is simple, but cute, and makes me smile every time I go on it.
I headed back to catch the next Poseidon show, but I was too late to get into it, as they close the line off 5 minutes before show time (it would have been nice if the employee at the start of the line had mentioned that to me when I had talked to him earlier). I had a bit of time before my lunch at Mythos, so I wound up going on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train, which was very cute.
I then walked back to Mythos for lunch. The restaurant was very pretty inside, one of the most pleasant restaurants I’ve ever dined in. It was nice that the tables further from the windows were a bit elevated so that most tables offered a view of the park. It was also nice that the tables weren’t crammed in so you felt like the other diners were right on top of you.
I wasn’t very hungry, so I opted to get a chicken sandwich for lunch. The sandwich was a bit on the boring side. It didn’t have much flavor, even after adding some ranch dressing. I would definitely try the restaurant again sometime, but not after having a big breakfast. I would like to try something more elaborate on the menu.
After lunch, I headed to see the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. This show was very hokey, but entertaining. Some of the stunts were pretty cool, but the story line and acting were very hokey. I enjoyed it, and it was worth seeing, but not something I would rush back to see again.
I then headed over to see Poseidon. It was a neat show, but again, it was very hokey. Our guide who took us through the room was very animated and funny.
After Poseidon, I took the boat back to the Hard Rock Hotel. It had been raining steadily most of the day, so I grabbed a pair of jeans from my luggage so I could change before meeting my SUV driver. I don’t normally write about bathrooms on my trip reports, but the ladies room off the lobby at the Hard Rock Hotel was one of the nicest rest rooms I’ve ever used. There were lots of stalls and sinks, and it was very roomy.
I then got my luggage, and went to meet my SUV driver Nate. We made a quick grocery stop at Publix, and were off to Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where I would be spending the next two nights with my friend Goofy4Tink.
We were in room 7917, which was a standard studio on the 5th floor, about 10 rooms down from the elevators. It overlooked the main entrance and the pool area to the right. The room itself was very nice. I liked the bedspread, but the furnishings were a bit on the dark side, which made the room seem very dark. I didn’t really like having an armoire instead of a closet. While there was plenty of room for a weekend stay, there wouldn’t really be enough room to store a week’s worth of clothes for more than one or two people in the armoire.
We were in a handicapped room, and the bathroom was humongous! It was so big that I think the toilet and tub were probably in different zip codes. The marble vanity area was inside the bathroom, and was very spacious. I prefer to have the vanity area outside the bathroom when I’m at a hotel so that one person can be showering while another is brushing teeth and fixing hair, etc. I kept on catching my thumb when I closed the pocket door of the bathroom.
We also discovered one way that Disney is trying to go green. The bathroom had a toilet paper holder that only allowed you to get one sheet of toilet paper at a time. While the toilet paper holder wasn’t really designed for dispensing one sheet of toilet paper at a time, the design was narrower at the ends, and made it impossible to get more than one sheet off the roll at a time until the roll was two thirds gone.
After my luggage delivered, I headed out to meet Goofy4Tink, who would be moving over from the Boardwalk. Originally, we had been planning on spending the evening at Epcot to watch the Candlelight Processional and go to Extra Magic Hours, but it was still pouring, and we were both feeling pretty soggy, so we decided to meet at Downtown Disney instead.
The bus for Downtown Disney arrived pretty quickly, and I was soon at Downtown Disney. It was still pouring rain, and the shops were all very crowded. We were going to eat at Wolfgang Puck’s Express in the Marketplace and do some shopping, but I had reached the point where I was too wet to enjoy shopping, and the shops were more crowded than I expected, so I called Goofy4Tink, who was still enroute to Downtown Disney and suggested that we meet on the West Side for dinner and a movie, which Goofy4Tink agreed to do.
When Goofy4Tink arrived, we got our tickets to see A Christmas Carol 3D and headed over to Wolfgang Puck’s Express on the West Side. Goofy4Tink got a meatball pizza, and I got the barbecue chicken salad. This is the second time I’ve eaten at Wolfgang Puck’s Express on the West Side, and both times, it’s been disappointing. The Wolfgang Puck’s Express is definitely much better at the Marketplace, as the menu seems a bit bigger. I usually get the barbecue chicken salad when I go to Wolfgang Puck’s Express. On the West Side, they serve the chicken cold, and on the Marketplace side, they serve it warm. They also offer crème brulee for dessert on the Marketplace side, which is not available on the West Side, so I had to settle for Key Lime Pie, which was good, but not crème brulee. I liked my meal, but would have enjoyed it better on the Marketplace side.
After dinner, we headed to the theatre, and walked to our theatre. When we arrived in the theatre 30 minutes before show time, the previews were already started, and the theatre was packed. It turned out that they gave us tickets for the 6:15 show instead of the 6:50 (I had specifically asked for tickets to the 6-5-0 showing when we bought our tickets). It was raining, and I didn’t think to double check the tickets before walking away from the ticket booth. We went to customer service, and they were able to switch our tickets to the 6:50.
We made our way to the other theatre, and were amongst the first people in the theatre. We chose our seats and chatted while we waited for the previews to start. At one point, Goofy4Tink said, “It smells like cat pee in here” and that set me off into a fit of giggles, which is never a good thing. Several times during the movie, cat pee popped into my head, and I had to stifle my giggles. Thanks, Diane.
Just as the previews started, the Rude family sat in the row behind us. It took them several minutes to get settled, and the mother’s butt kept on bumping into the back of my head. They were yapping loudly throughout the previews, and off and on through the movie. I think they must live in the theatre because clearly we were watching the movie in their living room, as they were chatting away like they were the only people in the theatre.
Not only did they yap, but they also ate what sounded like a 10 course meal throughout the previews and movies. There was loud chewing, paper crackling, and ice cube swirling throughout the movie. At one point, one of the kids apologized to her dad for swirling her soda so loudly. The mother stood up and was sticking the edge of her nacho box in my head. I was about to turn and ask her to watch the box when she sat down.
As the movie started, the dad suddenly came down with a case of the sniffles. I never heard him sniffle during the previews, but the second the movie started, every 30-60 he would have two long sniffles. I am not even using poetic license to exaggerate the number of times this man sniffled during the movie. It was ever 30-60 seconds, and I didn’t hear him sniffle once during the previews, or as the family walked out of the theatre behind us after the movie. It was only during the movie.
Despite the Rude Family behind us, I enjoyed the movie. Jim Carrey was fantastic in all of his roles, and the 3D animation was fantastic. The only thing that bugged me was the lengthy flying segments between ghosts, but overall it was a good version of this classic Christmas story.
After the movie, we headed over to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Kidani Village. When we arrived at the resort, we picked up Goofy4Tink’s bags at bell services and brought it up to our room. We settled in for the night after a rainy day in Orlando.
|01-07-2010, 10:12 PM||#3|
WDW PreTrip and Trip Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: WI USA
I had a free ticket too, from the SuperBowl last year.
I'm betting they won't do that again, with Harry Potter opening.
I can't believe you did the Mummy ride twice-that ride was intense-for me.
I never went over to IOA.
I rode ET for the first time, and I probably haven't watched the movie since the 80's, but it cracked me up, how many times they had ET, there must have been at least 50. The ride is a copy cat of Peter Pan.
|01-12-2010, 09:13 AM||#4|
Likes little devils
I know I'm getting old...I get it, I really do
Prisoner of Toy Story Mania
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Central Ma
You know...I never can figure out who you remember so much from each day. You must sit and write it all down at the end of the day. Come to think of it...I think I do remember you busily writing away one night.
I also liked Kidani well enough, but I think I prefer Jambo House. And I can't say why...just do.
It was fun though...a good two days and nights before we headed to our other resorts.
So....keep going with the trip report. It's how I remember stuff I had previously forgotten...tough to get old you know!!
|01-12-2010, 08:47 PM||#6|
Operating under the influence of Colin Farrell's eyes
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Boston and the Boardwalk Villas
The WPE on the west side is not nearly as good as the one at the marketplace. The menu is smaller, and the quality isn't as good.
As for comparing it the cafe, it's tough to compare the too. The meals at the cafe are more elaborate at the cafe, and there are a lot more offerings. They do have some of the same things on the menu, though, but both offer different things as well.
If you don't want to spend the money for the cafe, I think the WPE at the marketplace is good enough to satisfy a craving for WP food.
|01-15-2010, 08:20 AM||#7|
Operating under the influence of Colin Farrell's eyes
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Boston and the Boardwalk Villas
Day 3--Saturday, December 5, 2009
Is it wrong to eat meat at the Animal Kingdom Lodge? I hope not, because we ate a lot of it!
Saturday morning, we woke up extra early, as we had plans to meet some friends who we met on the MouseFest Cruise last December for breakfast at Boma. I had realized a few months back that we were all staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so I made arrangements to get together with our good friends Masayo (DinkyBean) and Jan (TiggerTails57).
When we were ready to hit the road, we walked out to the front of Kidani to wait for a bus to the Jambo House. We were originally planning on walking, but it was raining again, and neither of us felt like waiting in the rain, so we decided to take a bus. Since most buses stop at Jambo House after Kidani, we only had to wait a few minutes for the bus.
After a quick bus ride, we were soon at the Jambo House. We were early for our breakfast, so we walked around the lobby, and popped into the store for a few minutes before heading down to Boma to meet DinkyBean, TiggerTails57, and TiggerTails57’s daughter Elizabeth.
We were seated at a table soon after all of us had arrived, and we had an enjoyable meal with lots of laughs. It was fun reminiscing about last year’s cruise, and sharing in the excitement that DinkyBean, TiggerTails57, and Elizabeth had for the cruise they would be leaving on the next morning.
The food at the buffet was very good. Everything was hot and fresh. The only thing that I really didn’t care for was the bacon, which was sliced very thin and had absolutely no flavor. I really enjoyed the breakfast potatoes and the carved meats on the buffet. Our server had told us that there was turkey at the carved meat station, but the turkey looked and tasted an awful lot like corned beef.
After breakfast, Goofy4Tink and I said goodbye to the others, and made our way to the bus stop. Our original plan was to spend the day at the Animal Kingdom, but we decided to go elsewhere since we didn’t think the Animal Kingdom was the best park to visit in the rain. We decided to leave our destination to fate, and get on whatever bus came next.
We wound up on a bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were on the bus with a really nice family from Rochester, New York, all dressed in red. It was a mom and dad with two boys. The boys were friendly and well behaved, and I really enjoyed chatting with the family during the ride.
We had forgotten that there were morning Extra Magic Hours at the Studios on Saturday, so by the time we arrived at the park, it was a bit crowded, but not terribly unmanageable. We walked over to Toy Story Midway Mania and grabbed some Fast Passes and then went on the Great Movie Ride. I still have the same complaint about this ride as I have had on all my trips the past few years. I really wish they would go back to properly casting the mobster and the cowboy on this ride. I’m sorry, but a pimple faced teen from the college program just does not make a believable mobster or cowboy.
We then made our way down Sunset Blvd. so we could go on the Tower of Terror and the Rock N’ Roller Coaster. Goofy4Tink was surprised to see a 13 minute wait for the Tower of Terror. I told her that they do that all the time, but she couldn’t recall ever seeing it before.
We then headed to try to catch the first American Idol Experience Show, but we got there just after they closed off the line, even though there were still people walking in. We wound up going to see the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which neither of us had seen in a while. I have always wanted to be an extra in this show, I tried to get picked, but didn’t have luck. We were in a lucky, section, though, as two women in front of me were picked to be in the show.
After the show, we joined the masses exiting the show and got in line for Star Tours. Despite the fact that the line was out there door, the wait was pretty quick. This attraction is fun, but I wish they would update the movie.
We then grabbed a quick lunch of chicken nuggets at the Backlot Express, and made our way over to the American Idol Experience. The three contestants at our show were: Mike (a middle aged man), and school chums Chelsey and Laura.
Mike was the first performer, and he sang “Achy Breaky Heart.” He didn’t have the best voice I’ve ever heard, but he had a lot of personality. He quickly won the crowd over, as two of the three judges mentioned.
Chelsey was up next, and she performed “Reflection.” She had a very pretty voice, but lacked stage presence (as was also pointed out by the judges). Her nerves definitely got the best of her.
The final performer, Laura, performed, “I Hope You Dance.” She definitely had the best voice in the group, but also lacked stage presence. One of the judges commented that she had done a better job on the song than any of the previous contestants she heard sing that one.
When it came time for voting, Goofy4Tink and I both decided to vote for Mike. While he wasn’t the best overall singer in the group, he was definitely the best overall performer. I thought Mike might just pull out the win, thinking that the school group who was there for Chelsey and Laura might split the votes between them, letting Mike sneak up to take the win, but Laura wound up winning.
After the show, we did some shopping, and then used our fast passes for Toy Story Midway Mania. We needed to get some practice in before the big DISapalooza Toy Story Midway Mania meet the following Saturday.
We then decided to head back to Kidani Village so we could explore the resort for a while, and get ready for our dinner at Jiko that evening. On our way out, we saw a balloon vendor near Crossroads who was struggling with his balloons in the wind. Instead of being above his head, the balloons were blowing to his left. I joked with him that he was trying to be the new balloon boy so he could be on the news.
We didn’t have to wait long for a bus to Kidani Village, and we were soon exploring the resort. There were lots of animals out, and we spent a lot of time at the outdoor lookout point near Saanaa. We were enjoying watching the giraffes and zebras enjoying their lunch.
We also decided to walk from the lobby to the end of the hallway on the left as you enter the building to see how long the hallway is. We kept walking, and walking, and walking, and walking, and walking, and wondering when we would get to the end. It was close to a third of a mile to the end of that hallway. And we then had to walk that same walk back to the lobby. It was longer than any walk to a room I’ve had to take when staying at the Boardwalk Villas!
We also walked out to the pool area. I didn’t like that you had to exit through the lobby and out the front door to get to the pool, but the pool area itself was very nice. We were surprised to see some kids in the pool despite the fact that it was barely in the 50’s that afternoon. The pool area had a nice play area for the kids, as well. Goofy4Tink thought that the ladies room behind the pool bar was one of the nicest she’s ever used on Disney property!
We also spent some time at the lookout point near the pool, and chatted with two very nice cast members, Noe and Nizppho (I know I butchered the spelling of her name). We chatted with them about their hometowns in Africa, and our hometown of Boston.
We then started to walk towards the Jambo House. We got a tiny bit confused about how to go when we got to the main entrance at Kidani, and had to ask a cast member, who directed us to an elevator that would take us to the lower level.
I didn’t really like walking along the parking area below Kidani. We followed the signs along the walkway, which had multiple choice questions about animals. We answered many of them along the route, but stopped about midway through when we got bored with them. The walk from Kidani to Jambo wasn’t that bad--it took us less than 10 minutes door to door.
We were early for our dinner at Jiko, so we walked around the Jambo House a bit, and wound up going to grab a cold drink at Mara. We checked in for our dinner reservation when the restaurant opened, and were able to get seated early.
I liked the atmosphere at Jiko, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the food. We were seated at a table on the highest level not far from the kitchen, so there was a lot of traffic going back and forth beside us. It was also very cold inside the restaurant. I very rarely get hot or cold--I usually adapt to my surrounds--but I was freezing at Jiko. Jiko seemed like a nice place to bring a group of 6 or 8 people, as they had some nice large round booths that would be nice for a group meal.
After we placed our order, our server brought us a small cup of cauliflower soup as a thank you for staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I don’t really like cauliflower, but the soup was quite tasty, and I really enjoyed it. It was a nice little touch.
We started off with the barbecue chicken flatbread, which was excellent. It was by far my favorite part of the meal. It was perfectly cooked--piping hot and slightly crispy. The tangy barbecue sauce was delicious. If I ever dine at Jiko again, I would probably order the barbecue chicken flatbread and a small salad for my meal.
Both Goofy4Tink and I ordered the filet with macaroni and cheese, which we had heard great things about. The macaroni and cheese was very tasty. The filet was disappointing. It was very fatty and difficult to cut. It had very little flavor. I had steaks at several of Disney’s signature restaurants on this trip, and this was by far the most disappointing.
For dessert, we shared the lemon white chocolate mousse and the no sugar added apple tart. Both desserts were very good, and we agreed that the apple tart was the better of the two desserts.
After dinner, we headed to the bus stop to go to the Magic Kingdom, which was opened until 1:00 a.m. We knew it would be very crowded, but we decided to go over and try to do a few things anyways. The bus stop wasn’t that crowded when we arrived, but we had a bit of a wait for the bus. There were some unruly kids running around the people waiting for the bus, and jumping off and on the curb. One little girl, who appeared to be about five, started cussing, and her sister tattled on her.
When the bus arrived, everyone started to make their way towards it. There was a very cranky lady waiting in the line who told another woman, “You were here first. You have to hold your ground. People will cut in front of you. People are so rude.” Now, when Goofy4Tink and I arrived at the bus stop there were only about five or six people there, and there were now well over 25. So, I don’t know if she was directing it as us, but this woman was complaining about the people trying to get on the bus quite loudly. She even complained when she got on the bus about all the people who were cutting in to get on the bus before those who were there first.
The bus was soon loaded, and we were on our way to the Magic Kingdom! We made our way into the park. There is nothing quite like the feeling of your first view of the castle on a Disney trip! It’s extra magical when your first view of the castle is in the evening when they have the icicle lights on it!
One thing that was disappointing was the lack of festiveness in the Magic Kingdom. There didn’t seem to be nearly as many decorations in the park, and shops as there have been in on my previous December trips to Disney World. The tree wasn’t set up in Town Square, which I expected because of the parade, but I was hoping it would be down near the Rose Garden, where they have set it up in the past. But it wasn’t.
We made our way down to Tomorrowland. We hoping to get on Space Mountain, but it was down. Space Mountain was down for long periods of time each time we visited the Magic Kingdom, which was disappointing, as it had just reopened after a lengthy rehab.
We decided to head over to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and were surprised to see that the line for it was down the conveyor belt to the second level, and stretched out to close to the entrance of Carousel of Progress. In my 30 plus trips to Disney World, I have never seen a line at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority! It has always been walk on. We wound up jumping in the line just to say that we waited in the line for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and had about a seven minute wait.
Goofy4Tink and I were in a car with some rather annoying tweens who spent the entire ride screaming, “We love you people,” “We love you Stitch,” “ We love you this,” “We love you that” the entire ride. They were leaning out of the car, and had their arms extended out throughout the ride. I thought Goofy4Tink was going to climb over the seats and clobber them. We thought they were alone, but it turns out they were with a group of adults who wound up in the vehicle behind them.
We then went over to the Carousel of Progress. The theatre was more than three quarters full, which is more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. The show was as entertaining as ever, but we had some folks taking flash photography during the show. Twice, the show soundtrack was interrupted by a cast member who came on to announce, “No flash photography” and “Please remain seated during the presentation.” I have never heard them interrupt the show! I guess there were a lot more people who weren’t following the rules this trip.
We then wandered around, enjoying ourselves despite the crowds, and wound up going to the Country Bear Jamboree. Whenever I’m at Disney World with Goofy4Tink, I have to go see the Country Bears. We had gone to see it a few years back, and I was amazed by the political incorrectness of the show, and it soon became a must do for every Disney trip, especially when Goofy4Tink is with me. It drives Goofy4Tink a bit nutty, so that makes it even better for me! When we aren’t at Disney World (or when we’re at Disney World but not at the Magic Kingdom), I have been known to serenade Goofy4Tink with the classic song “Mama Don’t Whoop Little Buford.” Goofy4Tink usually joins in, and even her teenage daughter has joined in singing that song to her mom at random times!
While we were waiting for the show to begin, a family walked in, and the little child was complaining about having to go to the show. The mom said, “It’s a really great show.” In response to that, Goofy4Tink said, “Have you seen it?” That sent me off into a fit of giggles.
The show was as amazing as ever! I sang and clapped throughout the show, and Goofy4Tink and I harmonized on our favorite song, “Mama Don’t Whoop Little Buford.”
When we walked out of the Country Bear Jamboree, Spectromagic was heading our way, so we decide to watch it from the porch. We actually wound up with a decent spot for the parade considering we grabbed our spot just a few minutes before the parade arrived.
We then headed over to the hub to find a spot to watch the fireworks. We had a decent spot on the edge of the hub right near the spoke to Adventureland. Just as the fireworks started, some guy stopped in front of us and was chatting on his cell phone. I said really loudly so the guy could hear, “I just love it when people stop right in front of me to chat on their cell phones when there are fireworks going on.” The guy finished his conversation and hung up his phone so we could enjoy the fireworks without his soundtrack.
After the fireworks ended, I took a moment to wiggle my toes to make sure that they were all still there. Our toes were repeatedly run over by strollers during the fireworks show. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why people think it’s a good idea to try to make their way through the crowds in the hub when the fireworks are going on.
Here’s a tip, my devoted readers: don’t rush through the crowd. Stop and enjoy the fireworks. You’ll love them.
After the fireworks, we made our way over to Pirates of the Caribbean. We then headed over to the Jungle Cruise, which was as hokey as ever. Hilary was our skipper, and she was one of the best skippers I’ve ever had on the Jungle Cruise. She was animated, and really into it. She had a few jokes that I had never heard before, which was a pleasant surprise.
We decided to head back to Kidani Village, hoping that we had given it enough time that the after fireworks crowd had exited the park. Unfortunately, we did not give it enough time, and the line for the Animal Kingdom Lodge was halfway down the path to the fork between the two bus stop areas. There were at least twice as many people in the Animal Kingdom Lodge line as there were for the rest of the bus stops in the area. I don’t know if it’s because of the distance from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the bus stops, but it always seemed like we had long waits and full buses when we were at Kidani.
Once back at the Animal Kingdom, we went to bed after a busy but fun day.
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