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Old 11-14-2010, 09:13 PM   #1
4Pluto
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Confessions of a Lurker (Hobbling through WDW)

It shouldn't have taken this long, really. But after thoroughly enjoying the trip reports posted on this site, it suddenly occurred to me that I'm not doing my part. Yes, I was happy just to lurk in the background and vicariously vacation through the eyes of everyone else, but it didn't seem decent of me not to contribute. So here goes.

Me. Big with beard (see photos below). I'm way too close to middle age (that's 50, right?), single with dogs (an English Setter and an Irish Tornado) and a cat and a bird (and an ark etc.). My usual trip to Disney is with my brother, his wife, my nieces (4 and 6) (and yes, they are MY nieces) and our parents. We all live outside of Chicago, where it is gloomy too many days of the year.

These trips are made possible by my buying into DVC so that all 7 of us can fit in one 2 bedroom suite rather than pay for 3 separate hotels rooms. (Go ahead, guess who sleeps on the living room hide-a-bed.) My thought (and it is faulty) was that if I took care of the accommodations, then we could make a family tradition of going down to Orlando and avoid the whole "where should we go next year" discussion. I'm wrong. My brother discovered that it is possible to trade out weeks with RCI and now I am pursuing way too late in the game whether we can trade out next year's trip to Orlando for somewhere else with sand and water (but no mouse-ears). If I don't make it back to WDW with the family next year, I'll try for a short weekend with friends. Wait, I've gotten myself off topic.

This trip. I had business in Miami, which is just too close to Orlando not to visit. So as soon as I could duck out on Saturday (November 6), I took a plane from Miami to Orland0 (that's a real short flight; at the point we reached altitute, the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent into Orlando), dragged my luggage (all carryon bags) to the bottom floor of concourse B and waited for the Magic to happen.

I guess these days, Disney's Magical Express subs out to Mears. I loaded onto a bright yellow Mears bus with a very pleasant driver, but a non functional video system, so we missed our video introduction to Disney. This being about the 7th trip in 4 years, I can't say that I needed any of the information on the video, but it would have been nice to watch it while we escaped into Disney.

Our first stop was to Coronado Springs Resort (which I only mention as a sort of shout out to KatMark who maintains the awesome CSR thread on the resort board). Then off to the Kidani Lodge at the Animal Kingdom.

I really like this place. I spent a summer in West Africa after school (and before my "real" job started) and the architecture of the lodges and the artwork through the hallways always reminds me of what a great summer I had. My living room has at least a half dozen masks and wood objects that I hauled back that summer or collected since, so the decor of this hotel is perfect for me.

I also confess that I can sit and look at animals for hours. Ok. I confess that I can actually just sit for hours. I'm not a very restless person. In fact, as I narrate this trip, you are going to see that I spend a good amount of time just sitting in the parks. I have my favorite spots. So a hotel where I can sit on a balcony and watch animals for hours without interruption is another "perfect" in my book.

My room (Studio) was on the 5th floor facing the Sunset Savannah. But before I could check out the room, I had to do laundry. Well, let's put it this way. I twisted my knee several weeks ago, then hiked (ok, walked) through Arches National Park, then folded my legs into way too tight airline seats, and so by the time I got to Orlando, I was hobbling. And if I'm hobbling, I'm going to save up energy for the parks. So before I even reached the room, I dragged my luggage into the laundry room, pulled out all the clothes that got dirty in Miami (maybe I just should have said, all of the clothes) and started a load of laundry.

Then I got to the room. I dumped the suitcase and made straight for the balcony. And this is the view: (pause here. This stuff is new to me and I'm not sure I got the whole photo uploading correct. So bear with me):


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Old 11-14-2010, 09:21 PM   #2
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Jim, I am here and and delighted to see that you've decided to do a TR. Looking forward to the report and your pictures.

And thanks for the shoutout and kind words.
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:58 PM   #3
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Wow. That worked (thanks Kathy).

Another apology is required here. Normally I bring my camera, but since this was a business trip, I have just the phone camera and a few shots from photopass.

After shifting my clothes from the washer to the dryer, I headed to the pool for some lunch. The bar served a decent club sandwich (it's decent if you add lots of mayo and mustard, but then again, what sandwich can't be saved with mayo and mustard?) and a very nice passionfruit cooler (yes, it has some fancy pants name, but it slipped my middle aged memory).

After eating, I folded the laundry and headed back to the room for a nap.

Honestly, I took a nap. I had read that Magic Kingdom was open until 11pm, with extra magic hours until 2am extended for an additional hour in honor of the end of daylight savings time and if I was going to be up until 3am in the morning, I needed some rest.

I woke with plenty of time to make my 5:45 ADR at Sanaa. I've wanted to try this restaurant because it seemed to break the Disney mold, and it pretty much accomplishes that (although you can still get the obligatory steak here).

I started with a non-alcholic mango cooler (opinions differ, but sometimes I think its more important to spend my calorie allowance on dessert rather than drinks . . .) and their bread service. The bread service allows you to choose 3 of 4 breads (I got the Nan (with melted ghee butter and full of bubbles, this was excellent), the Onion Kulcha (a little to mealy for my taste) and the papadum (a nice flat bread) and then you choose 3 accompaniments (I choose a garlic pickle for spice, a tamarind chutney for sweet (like BBQ sauce) and the cucumber raita for coolness after the garlic pickle). These were great together. The waiter was very helpful in picking out the food.

I followed with the salad sampler (3 salads in small bowls). This is another great way to try out exotic foods without gambling on just one dish. I had the watermelon, lime and radish (wonderful sweet cubes of watermelon and cucumber soaked in lime with some tangy spices I can't place but that perfectly complement the watermelon), the roasted beets (I think these were pickled or tasted like they had been pickled), and the carrot, orange and mint, which again paired sweet flavors with tangy spices. I loved these salads.

My main course was the tandoori lamb. I'll be honest. I was kinda full by this time. The plate came with cubes of lamb and a sauce for dipping. The lamb tasted a lot like the lamb you find on gyros and the sauce was a bit tangy (sweet and spicey). I wasn't as fond of this dish, but I think if I had the tandoori chicken I would have been better off. Oh yeah, and if I hadn't just eaten 3 breads and 3 salads!

Dessert is important. And here, it didn't miss. At the waiter's suggestion, I had the Orange Sesame Cake with passionfruit kulfi (which apparently is indian style ice cream). The cake was very moist and the orange flavor was wonderful. The passionfruit ice cream was perfect with the cake (especially if you drizzled melting ice cream over the already moist cake to make an obscenely wonderful dessert). And I'm saying this about a dessert without any chocolate in it whatsoever.

After dinner, I wadled over to the waiting area and grabbed the bus for the Magic Kingdom. I arrived about 7 o'clock, so I had 8 hours of park time left (that's just not right . . .). It was already dark, but the place was lit up with red, green and blue xmas lights.

xmas lights

Here I am on a "beach" vacation pretending summer hadn't really ended. And there were xmas lights at the Magic Kingdom, along with toy soldiers on main street and holiday music piped through the park. I probably should have paid attention to the weather forecasts because instead of "beach" vacation temperatures, I was venturing into the Magic Kingdom in shorts and a polo shirt on a night that barely missed record low temperatures for early November. It hit something in the low 40s that night.

Now I have a "hat" tradition, just a little different than Kathy and Mark. Each time I go to WDW, I buy a new cap (and new Mickey Mouse socks). I prefer something a littlle understated, so that I can wear it around work or in town and it doesn't scream out Disney but if you look carefully, you can see that its a Disney cap. I hobbled over to Adventure land and found a cart with hats just across from the Dole Whip counter. They are carrying hats celebrating the anniversary of the WDW, that are intentionally faded, with what looks like a dog eared '71 attached as if the hat was in the back of the closet for the last 40 years. It is perfect. (And its in almost every picture of me that I will post . . .)

After buying the hat, I found a seat by Aladdin's Flying Carpet Ride and watched for a while. (There are good seats next to the Tiki House). Then I figured I better do something now that I made it into a park, so I went to the Tiki show. I really like the rain storm.

Next, I hit the Jungle Cruise for a nightime excursion. In some respects, the animation is even better (and the jokes are even worse) at night. From there, I hobbled to Pirates for a ride in a mostly empty boat. By the time I finished in Adventureland, it was time for the electric light parade.

I watched the parade from the walkway between Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion. I didn't get a spot to sit, which made me "cranky" as a friend would put it. So when the parade was through, I headed for the planters outside the Hall of Presidents where I got a good seat for the fireworks, which began almost immediately after the parade was finished.

I've watched Wishes from in front (by the bridge), and from behind (by Dumbo), but this was my first "side view". It's probably not as good a view as front and back, but I got to sit to watch the fireworks (did I mention I liked to sit and watch stuff at Disney?).

I started to get up after the fireworks but was run over by about 10,000 people all queing in line for the Haunted Mansion. At 10:30 at night, the wait was 40 minutes. I like the Haunted Mansion, but not with a 40 minute wait at 10:30 at night.

So I walked past the Dream Builder's signs on what will be Princess Land or whatever the new and improved Ariel's Grotto will be, and past the temporarily closed Pooh and Teacups rides and made it to the benches across from the Speedway, where I had another long and quite enjoyable sit.

From there, I made it to the last Laugh Floor show of the night (they stopped at midnight), I considered Buzz Lightyear (40 minute wait at 12:30 am) and opted instead for carousel of progress, because at 1 am, who doesn't want to know what the future will look like. Actually, my dad took me on this ride in 1965 at the New York's World Fair and though I don't remember it (I do remember crying on the train platform--how's that for gratitude), it was a bit nostalgic to see the videos explaining the ride and the fair (while you wait for your turn in the theater). From there I rode the TTA, which goes surprisingly fast at 1:30 am when you are wearing only a polo shirt and shorts and the temperature has now dipped frighteningly close to cold. I don't normally get cold, but when I couldn't hear the announcer over my chattering teeth, I knew I wasn't going to make it all the way to 3 am.

So I hobbled back to main street (I sat in front of Stitch's Great Escape, and then in front of the castle, and then finally along main street). At the end of Main Street, there were toy soldiers and a photographer, so I figured I had to document my park visit with a photo. So here's me at 2 am in the Magic Kingdom (more to come later).




Thanks for following along.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by KatMark View Post
Jim, I am here and and delighted to see that you've decided to do a TR. Looking forward to the report and your pictures.

And thanks for the shoutout and kind words.
You are most welcome for the shout out (since you've been the inspiration). Now I have to figure out how not to type so long that I log off of the site in the middle of my reports . . .!

This is it for tonight. I'll start on Sunday's report in the next couple days.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:22 PM   #5
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Not sure why typing too long would make you log off. A little secret: I type my updates in word and then copy and paste into the new thread and then add pictures...just to be safe.

You are doing a great job. And it's nice to put a picture with the man I talk to.
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:07 AM   #6
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Hi! Congrats on starting your first TR!

Be careful, though: Turns out writing them can be as addictive as reading them!

I'm with you on the Disney socks. At this point, I forget my own socks on purpose, just so I'll have an excuse to buy more Disney ones. Tinkerbell's on my feet this very moment.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:33 PM   #7
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I'm with you on the Disney socks. At this point, I forget my own socks on purpose, just so I'll have an excuse to buy more Disney ones. Tinkerbell's on my feet this very moment.
Thanks very much for the encouragement.
I came home with 4 new pairs of socks only to find that my English Setter had been carrying my old socks out into the backyard when I was gone (and the dog sitters must not have noticed), so it's a lucky thing I picked up my allotment of socks this trip or I'd being going barefoot on my next trip to WDW.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:50 PM   #8
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Sunday Morning at Kidani.

I woke up (laaaate) to a beautiful sunny day, with a brisk 50s degree temperature. After a wholesome breakfast of milk and donuts (breakfast of champions thanks to my room fridge), I needed to explore Kidani. I checked out the library and sat in the chairs looking out at the savannah (giraffes and zebras) and then checked out the community hall (lots of crafty things) and decided that I really needed to try out the pools.

The play area is under construction/repair, but the main pool was open. Although the wind was brisk the water was nice and warm, so I swam for a good 40 minutes. I think I would have finished in 30 minutes but with the wind blowing and temperature not yet near 60, I was afraid to get out of the pool.

After a quick run (completely devoid of any dignity) to the towels, I headed over to the savannah overlook by the pool. This is a really nice quiet area complete with local guide (from S. Africa) and animals that aren't necessarily found elsewhere at the Lodge. The Okapi were really frisky this morning and came right down to the pool by the overlook, so I got a great look at them. There were impala, waterbuck, nyalas, thompson gazelles, buzzards and blue herons. Here's a quick look at the Okapi, waterbuck and nyalas at the pool:






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Old 11-16-2010, 12:22 AM   #9
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Sunday afternoon.

Around noon, I swapped my swim trunks for shorts and headed off to Hollywood Studios. Christmas caught me by surprise again, this time in the form of a gigantic tree with ornaments the size of basketballs.

I found a very convenient bench just inside the gates (by the stroller rentals) and watched the crowds wash into the park. After checking out the shops along main street (I had been looking for some gifts from UP and finally found a stuffed Doug here on Main Street), I headed for the food court outside of Beauty and the Beast. It's nothing fancy, but it has reliable burgers and fries and a pretty decent carrot cake. The key is to protect your food from the horde of sparrows that hover over the tables. (It was uncrowded this time of year; when I was here over President's Day Weekend, it was impossible to get a table).

After lunch, I did a little more shopping (for xmas presents) at the villains store and then found a nice park bench close enough to the block party to see the characters dancing and bouncing but far enough away to escape the amplified music.

After the "party" I headed for my favorite disney activity: drawing classes at the Art of Animation. This combines sitting (which I'm really quite good at) with drawing (which I'm not, but I have fun). Unfortunately, by the time the short intro film finished, I was too late to get into the class, so I spent the next 30 minutes making small talk with the other drawing class groupies who were waiting with me for the next class.

When we were finally admitted, the instructor let us choose the character for drawing, which led to a fairly vocal contest between the Stitch heads and the rest of us. (Ok. I admit a bias here. I just didn't care for Stitch and it always amazes me how much attention he gets at WDW. You can barely find anything from the Incredibles, Cars, Meet the Robinsons, the Frog and the Princess, UP, and dozens of other movies, but Stitch has a ride, and character greetings and whole stores full of Stitch products).

Eventually, we all compromised on Chip. He was a lot of fun to draw, and the instructor kept us all laughing, so it was another successful afternoon at the Art of Animation. And I have another drawing tucked into the file cabinet at home . . .

I hobbled back to the park entrance and headed for the boat to the Epcot Resorts and the World Showcase. In order to fit 4 parks into 3 days, I needed to hit both Hollywood Studios and Epcot today, and the boat is a really nice way to avoid the long death march from the bus stop to the park attractions.

I'm leaving Epcot for the next installment of this trip report, but this installment deserves at least one photo; here goes a picture of me at the Studios:

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Old 11-16-2010, 10:12 AM   #10
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Great update, Jim. I'm afraid if I stay at AKL next trip like planned that I'll NEVER leave the resort...giraffes and zebras, oh my.

I like how you leisurely sit and just take everything in. I don't think I could quite do that, but I would like to take more time to just sit and observe and soak it all in.

I'm with you. I don't get the fascination with Stitch at all. Mark and I avoid the ride (which is awful anyway), we avoid him at the parks and we won't go to Ohana's for breakfast because he is there.

I love the picture of you at the Studios!
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:02 PM   #11
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Count me in as another Stitch-hater. Or, not a hater, maybe, but a Stitch-unenthused. I just don't get his appeal.

The drawing class at HS is probably the #1 thing I've been meaning to do my last few trips, but haven't gotten around to it for one reason or another. It sounds so fun! Next time, I'm gonna do it. Really.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:04 PM   #12
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Count me in as another Stitch-hater. Or, not a hater, maybe, but a Stitch-unenthused. I just don't get his appeal.

The drawing class at HS is probably the #1 thing I've been meaning to do my last few trips, but haven't gotten around to it for one reason or another. It sounds so fun! Next time, I'm gonna do it. Really.
norybell, you should definitely do it. It was 4Pluto's encouragement that we did it this year and we got to Donald Duck (there's a photo in my TR). My DH and I had so much fun doing this. I'll try to find the photobucket picture and post here too if I can.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:07 PM   #13
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Hi! Just wanted to let you know I'm reading along. You're doing a great job so far.

I do not like Stitch at all either. I also totally don't get why he is so present at the parks. The animation class is something I've read about on so many TR's now. I may just have to finally do it too when we're down there in December.

Can't wait to read more!
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:33 PM   #14
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The drawing class at HS is probably the #1 thing I've been meaning to do my last few trips, but haven't gotten around to it for one reason or another. It sounds so fun! Next time, I'm gonna do it. Really.
You have to sit through a film about the creation of Mushu for Mulan, and then bypass the character greetings, but in the back there is a little roped off area to wait (the class is only about 30 people, every 30 minutes), but it's worth it. For a few minutes, you feel like you're sharing the real magic of Disney.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:41 PM   #15
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we did it this year and we got to Donald Duck (there's a photo in my TR). My DH and I had so much fun doing this. I'll try to find the photobucket picture and post here too if I can.
Last February I went with the extended family (DM, DF, DB, DSIL, DN6 and DN4) to WDW and then a 4 night DCL cruise to Bahamas. On the ship, one of the activities was a drawing class taught by one of the cruise directors. Although it wasn't the same (the Art of Animation has real artists, the ship has cruise directors . . .), it was fun to watch my Niece try to draw Mickey. Later, at the Contemporary, I found a Disney notebook in the gift shop that has the instructions for drawing Mickey along with paper and pencils etc. It was a great gift, but I kinda wish I had copied it first so I could draw Mickey too!
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