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Old 03-19-2010, 09:43 AM   #1
ejud
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2 Trip Reports from Jud

2010 03 07-8 WDW Epcot Flower & Garden show The Boardwalk, and The Magic Kingdom with friends Joyce and Dan:

228 new photos in private album at:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577...I?vhost=travel

The most beautiful time of the year at Disney World is the annual Flower and Garden show at Epcot.

For six weeks or so, over 25,000 cast members transform and maintain the grounds into a celebration of color and form with flower beds and topiary and other added features, demonstrations and events, music and decorated play areas for the little ones.

There is no finer time to go to Epcot.

I decided to go down for the opening day, but the weather for that day and the next few was very cold so I postponed till the following Monday, a day predicted to be in the 70's, a barely acceptable temperature for me. My friends Joyce and Dan invited me to spend the night before in their suite at the Boardwalk, so I headed down on Sunday and entered Epcot for my first viewing. I later met them there and we admired it all, and did a few attractions as well, until the sun went down, followed quickly by the temperatures, and we headed over to the Boardwalk.

The next morning I headed out early to catch the morning sun for more shooting, and later in the day rejoined Joyce for a visit to the Magic Kingdom: Dan had been under the weather all night and spent the day in bed.

Joyce and I ate at the Plaza restaurant and while waiting for our table, I teased some older ladies from Canada on their first visit, and then, sitting atop a trash can across from the restaurant entrance, tossed a rubber ball back and forth across the walkway with the Hostess and we added in the occasional passing and willing guest.

After lunch in the very cold of the excessive air-conditioning, and again a bit of chat with a large table of first-timers, we headed out to do some attractions, got stopped inside the Haunted Mansion, got thrilled on Big Thunder Mountain and a bit wet on Splash Mountain.

We sat near the circle for a bit, then, sun heading down, Joyce headed for dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern and I headed out and after a stop at the Boardwalk to pick up my gear, headed home.

Though exhausted, I returned two days later, having noted that the weather was to be good and the crowds low, a phenomenon that would end on Friday with the crowds of spring break threatening to massively overcrowd the parks for the next several weeks.



Jud
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Two More Days at Disney

259 new photos in private album at:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577...a?vhost=travel

Home but exhausted from my Sunday and Monday at WDW for the Flower and Garden show, I checked the weather forecast to see if the reports I had heard were accurate and it turned out that contrary to the previous report of the temps heading down from Monday on, they were indeed heading slightly up. This, coupled with the crowd levels, 4 for Wednesday and Thursday, followed by 9's for the week or more following, informed me that I would best be getting back for F&G while the getting was good, so I decided to indeed head right back down and let the body do what it would.

I was up and out fairly early for me, and on the road at 10:04 am.

About ten miles out, passing through Inverness, I started to notice a thumping feel in the steering wheel. It was fairly mild, so, fixated on my destination, I continued on. However over the next 78 miles, it kept getting more pronounced, and finally got to the point of being rather alarming, so I pulled into a gas station on 27 just above 192 and thought to have a look at the tires- it felt like either one was going to fall off, or was very low on air. I checked them all, all were very firm, and tugging on each wheel as hard as I could showed no looseness. I continued on content that at least there was no flat or sign of a wheel about to fall off.

I pulled into the Epcot parking lot and found a spot at 11:38, and was thrilled to see it almost empty: only the first few rows of the first section had any cars, as opposed to the nearly full lot I had seen in terror on the previous Sunday's arrival.

I pulled out and assembled my ECV, loaded up my supplies, and headed on in.

My intent was to do a midday shoot of the F&G displays, then take a mid-afternoon break to check into Motel 6 and rest a bit, then return that evening for some night viewing and Illuminations.

I started my shoot with a spin around the entirety of the Big Ball and then headed over toward the Festival Center at the former Horizons Pavilion, knowing it was open only on weekends, but wanting to see what decorations were in the area.

I found Stitch in front of Mission: Space, then headed on to World Showcase, heading to the Mexico side having already done the Canada side quite well the previous visit. Found nothing in Mexico, which is somewhat blocked off by construction barriers for the rebuilding of the San Angelo restaurant along the waterfront, and grabbed the first topiary shot in Norway, the old troll, same as the previous years.

Next was on to China for the mighty Dragon I had heard about and shot that from many angles and was about to move on from there when a lady called out to me. She was on a rental ECV, one of those large slow ones, and wanted to inquire as to mine, a speedy compact little number. Her husband stood along side her. I noticed her birthday button and wished her a happy one, and learned it was indeed today, her 65th! Her and her husband had both recently retired as special needs teachers, and she had just taken to the ECV, something the Doctors had predicted for her 25 years earlier. Stubborn.

I also noticed both of them had lots of pins, and all of them Jiminy Cricket, as well as shirts featuring the spokesman of Disney's 'Green' campaign. At the end of our conversation, she insisted on giving me one. I added it to my jacket next to my favorite, a Stitch Halloween pin given to me by a young brother and sister many years earlier.

On around the countries, trying to get good shots of all of the topiaries... And some shots to note the F&G details added to the garden train layout next to Germany... I noticed a farm scene and though of my Disney Fan friends Susan and Galen in Nebraska... thought of sneaking in a scaled sign reading "Galen's Farm"... thought of getting some rice in Japan, but remembered my own supply of sunflower seeds and chocolate bits and satisfied myself with that.

Was shooting the Beauty and the Beast Topiary, while they were nearby doing a meet and greet. I called the Beast over during a quiet moment and had him pose with his topiary... On to France, where I noticed the Princess was not very busy, so took the opportunity to get a shot with her, and then shot a woman in the spirit who had shot me with the princess... while her daughter sighed loudly in obvious impatience with her mother- I told her to get with it.

Was out back in England looking for what used to be a smoking area near the exit for the Pooh and Friends photo op, and Tigger stepped out the door to wave to me- saw there was no line so went in to grab some shots- Tigger is a personal fav... I always bounce with him, though my bouncing is a bit less pronounced these days... then just past the UK, the big gates were open and there were some characters in the side walkway.

Now interesting bit here: Smee was the very first character I ever had a picture taken with- way back in Jan 73! His head was cut off in the picture, as was mine- people were not that good with cameras back then- and for years I though he was one of the 7 Dwarfs!

Back to Canada. It is just so pretty, always the prettiest pavilion with Victoria Gardens, but even more so during this festival... then up the side path to try for the Fantasia characters again in another light... over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends, then on out.

As I started out, the earlier noted thumping had grown significantly worse and I decided that instead of the motel I would stop by the Wal-Mart Auto center and see if they could recommend a good local shop cause by this point I am thinking broken axle... I know they do only tires and oil here. I explain it to the check-in lady and she sends me over to have one of the guys look at it, and from 30 feet away, the kid says, "you have a bubble."

We walk over to the left front tire and he repeats, and though I can't see what he is talking about, I feel it and there is a huge distortion in the tread, rising about 1/2 inch above the surface and about 8 inches long! I am aghast! I immediately start to let air out of the tire, noting how very firm it is, and then think to ask for a pressure gauge. I have let out considerable air by the time he gets it there, and it reads 40 pounds! I am shocked! These are supposed to be at 32! I let the air out down to 30 and while the raised section has subsided a bit, it is hardly back to normal, and I realize this tire has been destroyed or at least would be very risky. It finally dawns on me that the 'repair' I need is a new tire, so I go to check-in and inquire on price, and when I get back he has checked and found that the remaining three tires were each at 44 psi!!! Apparently the previous week when I had had to have a tire repair done at my local shop, someone had topped them all off to the wrong figure! I was just lucky it didn't blow up on the highway.

While they installed the new tire, I went inside and explored the large Disney merchandise section to pass the time. An hour alter, I was on my way and checked into Motel 6, Main Gate East. Netted, napped and then headed back over to Epcot for the evening- after finishing watching some movie on HBO...

Pretty much went straight to my spot for Illuminations, did some chatting, did some shooting, enjoyed the show- though distracted by a woman next to me who apparently felt it was her duty to loudly narrate and comment on EVERY burst and effect she saw...

After, I made my way around World Showcase to shoot the topiaries and a few other scenes at night.

The next morning I was awakened early to the sound of a torrential downpour! Though I wanted to get up and going, I was feeling pretty beat and hadn't slept well so ended up hanging on trying to get rested right up until check out time at noon. I did catch the first half of `Ink Heart' on HBO and that looked pretty good- gonna have to rent that sometime.

By the time I was out, it was merely overcast and sprinkling and I headed over to the nearby Publix to grab a cucumber and then over to property via the Osceola Parkway entrance. I noted the new sign as I waited at the light at the intersection for Wide World of Sports complex, again curious that for once, the Disney tag was removed from an attraction in favor of something else. Guess ESPN has become more bang for the buck for the corporation...

I was heading over to do take advantage of a special offer this month for Annual Passholder's, a free ride-along on the Richard Petty Driving Experience! So I headed for Magic Kingdom and instead of turning in to the parking lot, continued on as if exiting, and turned into the race track at the appropriate moment.

I stopped at the entrance building and the attendant came out and when I asked if it was open, he kind of looked at me like I had two heads. Then, being duly considerate, he asked, "Do you follow Nascar?"

I admitted that no, I didn't.

He nodded, now understanding my blatant stupidity and explained, "They don't run in the rain- no treads."

We chatted a bit, and I did get permission to drive in and out just to see the place, never having been on a track infield before, and then I headed back over to Epcot.

As I entered, it was still wet, but no rain, and even bits of sun peeking out. I had a specific target here, to go to The Land both to have a meal at Sunshine Seasons- for some reason I was famished this morning- and to locate identify and record what I had been told was "a new water attraction". I was doubtful- for how could there be anything new at Disney without it having been noted on the net??? In other words, without me knowing about it? Impossible! But a net friend had been adamant and I had two names to inquire of, and I would give it a shot. I was convinced that my informant was being played by her friend in an attempt to lure her back to Disney World.

As I entered Epcot and headed to The Land, I did note that the overcast made for much better lighting on the topiaries for shooting than the previous days of bright but harsh and directional sun. I determined once again to shoot the collection.

Entering the Land- oh! A bit of a side-bar! All this trip is being done with a rather risky situation regarding my ECV. I always have to run a with a spare battery pack as they never last a full day, and most of them are old enough that they only give me a couple of hours. I usually have one charging at Guest Services while I run on the other. But, I had grabbed a bad pack for this trip and when I had reclaimed it the night before to continue on, though it showed a full charge, it was completely dead! So all my visiting these two days is being done under constant threat of complete ECV failure at any moment with no back-up at hand! Of course these days, I hardly last longer than my batteries so not a big problem very often...

So, back to the Land, I take the elevator down to the bottom floor and seek out the counter where one signs up for the Behind the Seeds tour and ask the Cast member there if she knows either Laura or Les. I am told they are managers, and Laura is off today, and she contacts Les but he is in a meeting and wants to know why I want him- I say don't disturb him- nothing important but he says he will come over after the meeting and that is about ten minutes.

I check out the menu at Sunshine Seasons and kill the time, go back and there is Les. He had just arrived and I explain the situation to him and lo and behold, he says, yes, there is a new water attraction! I inquire and do a bit of an impromptu interview with him.

Les (and Laura) is a manager of a "couple" of the Greenhouses, the glass enclosed spaces out behind The Land where lots of food plants are grown using the most advanced technology in the field and constantly striving to push those technologies as well as make them viewable by Disney's guests: part of the original idea behind Epcot- to entertain while educating.

About two and a half years ago, Les had the idea and desire to add a section devoted to those potential food crops that grow in or on the water and started his project to create such a section. It had opened just a week earlier, and while complete in its manifestation, its plants are just beginning.

This was pretty much Les' baby from start to finish, and he was clearly thrilled with it! I commented that, heck, you're almost an Imaginear! He laughed that off and said, "It's what we all do."

I thanked Les and headed over to ride the boats and see this new water attraction.

But first, lunch at Sunshine Seasons. I had the half-chicken, flirted with the server and got some extra potatoes- they are so good- and the carrots were just great! Very sweet! Full, but not finished, it occurred to me to take my remaining hunk of chicken and a table cleaner advised me to go ask for some foil at the bakery counter and though that failed, I did get some help at the Chinese food counter from a CM there- she gave me some cling wrap and advised me to put it in a small drink cup with lid. I did so, stashed it in my seat-box of my ECV and did a walk-on on the boat ride, Living with The Land.

I was not quite sure where the new attraction was, and in fact shot it before I realized that this was it. Fortunately I got it. Pretty neat! I look forward to seeing it in full bloom in a few months.

I also noted something special in the lettuce grow beds- see if you see it- and remembered from the narration that on that bed, they grow 25,000 head a year! Maybe not he most exciting ride in Epcot, but some fascinating technology! And given the destruction we are doing to the natural systems of the planet, nice that someone is working out some alternatives...

Emerging from the boat ride, finding myself at the entrance to Soarin, well, what the heck...

As I emerged form the Land Pavilion, it was sprinkling a bit, and I stopped under cover to don my rain jacket and then thought to remove my cloth sneakers and socks and stash them in my seat box. They are very susceptible to getting soaked quickly as my feet remain fixed on my ECV.

First time I've been barefoot in as long as I can remember and it felt great!!!

I headed out to World Showcase as others started to take shelter under any available overhang, or simply head to the exits.

I made my way around again, starting Canada side, and though it was now darkening, was again pleased with the more even lighting being given by the overcast skies. As I carried on, the crowds thinned, the sky darkened, and the rains grew heavier.

By 2PM, all the cast members and remaining guests were hiding and ducking for cover, or huddling in the small roofed areas of the Flower & Garden demonstration areas.

I just went truckin' on.

At this point, I was having to quickly pull my camera from under my raincoat and hold it close to my face under the brim of my hat, grabbing the shot and quickly returning it to the safety of my plastic covered chest. Many of the shots show the telltale white spot of the raindrop on lens.

I was lucky in all this in that it turned out that I discovered a topiary display I had completely overlooked until this point, a Mickey and Minnie off the main trail in the American Pavilion!

Already having stayed an hour past what I intended due to the excitement of the rain, I started to head out, taking the side way just past Mexico.

About half way out, I stopped for a cigarette break under some meager cover. As I stood there, with the occasional fleeing guests or two racing by, I watched as the storm grew and darkened. By this point, my own state had become quite liquid: my hat soaked, my 'breathable' raingear fully saturated, and my clothes beneath now absorbing the leak-through.

I did think with some relief that I had a complete change of clothes and a towel in my car; and though hardly with the convenience of the van I used to travel in, I was sure I could manage a change in my Accord sub-compact...

I was very pleased with myself for having the foresight to remove and stash my shoes and socks as soon as the sprinkles began.

After a second cig and enough time to take in the storm in all its glory, now muddling the view with driving rains and causing normally rock steady trees to bend like rubber fakes, I re-started my exit, passing by Test Trak, noting a few CM's huddled under a tiny covered area at the entrance to the closed ride, and moving through huddled masses under the cover of the Innoventions East pass-through.

I continued on to the front and out the long walkway to my car. I had to disassemble the scooter in the pouring rain. I peeled off my raingear and tossed that soggy mass into the trunk too, and dove headlong into the driver's seat. Manipulating as best I could to get to my suitcase and my swim bag, I got the needed clothes and towel, and reclining the seat, and behind rain blurred windows, in a few minutes managed to get my body dry, in dry clothes, and ready for the two hour ride home.



Jud
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:26 AM   #2
heaven2dc
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Wow - what a trip you had! I'm glad you are safe and that the repair was only a tire and nothing more expensive. The pics at Epcot are absolutely beautiful! I'm just now taking a peak at your photo album but had to comment real quick. I loved your TR!
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:15 AM   #3
ejud
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
Wow - what a trip you had! I'm glad you are safe and that the repair was only a tire and nothing more expensive. The pics at Epcot are absolutely beautiful! I'm just now taking a peak at your photo album but had to comment real quick. I loved your TR!
Thanks! Glad you are enjoying it!



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Old 03-19-2010, 04:52 PM   #4
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Never been to the Flower and garden show. Maybe some day.

Glad you found out what was wrong with your car. That happened to me years ago when I was getting ready to travel to Disney. My tire felt weird when I drove it, I took it to the shop and they said every thing is OK. I had thought I had a nail in there but no. The next day we went on our merry way and it still felt strange. We were there 3 or 4 days and on the way back about 90 miles from home the thread fell off my tire. It wasn't flat but had no thread. I had to call AAA and they put on my spare and had to ask where to go buy a tire. At that time I was really angry because my car was less that a year old.
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Old 03-19-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
ejud
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Never been to the Flower and garden show. Maybe some day.
Glad you found out what was wrong with your car. That happened to me...
Huh! I figure the guys at my shop are just used to dealing with big ol trucks and were running on automatic...

Hey! Get thee to the F&G!!! Nothing better! So beautiful! I figure it is a requirement for any... Disney Vet!



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Old 03-20-2010, 08:01 PM   #6
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I caught the very end of the F&G show on my first family trip in 2007. Gorgeous!

I'm so glad your tires didn't leave you in a horrible way!

Thanks so much for sharing!
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