The Cast: Me - Geoff_M, age 36, 7th trip Mrs. M - Diane, age 35, 4th trip Daughter - Kristina, age 9, 2nd trip Son #1 - Charles, age before 6, age after 7, 2nd trip Son #2 - Steven, age 19 months, 2nd trip Cameos by: My Sister - Sally, age 28 Her Boyfriend - Tom, age ?? Duration: 6 days (1/1/01 to 1/6/01) Stayed On-Site at Wilderness Lodge 01/02/2001 - Thinking "Tall Thoughts" --- We woke up Tuesday morning around 6:15 and managed to get the whole crew downstairs to Artist Point at 7:30 for our scheduled character meal. On the way out the door we picked up the complimentary copy of the Orlando Sentinel. The lead story was the thousands of Delta passengers stranded at the Orlando airport. Not a good omen for our return. The basic breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns for us. Eggs and pancakes for the kids) was tasty and the crowd was thin. Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore made the rounds. Piglet was not in attendance. Though known up front, the absence seemed odd. The kids asked the waitress where he was. She said he was at another breakfast. We spent the daytime at MGM. We arrived there about 30 minutes after opening. The first order of business was Rock-n-Roller Coaster. It was the only ride Charles couldn't ride when visited last January. He desperately wanted to make the cut this time. We measured him before we left, and he was going to be REALLY close to the 48" minimum. We advised him to "Think tall thoughts!" We walked up to the start of the queue area and was greeted by the Cast Member with "The Stick". He told Charles to remove his hat. "Uh-oh" I thought "he's sunk." After a couple of anxious moments the CM pronounced him "Just tall enough." Charles beamed and proceeded with sister and mom while Steven and I went to the baby swap wait area. About 20 minutes later Charles, still bouncing off the walls, appeared. He loved every minute of it. He batted his long eyelashes at the CM in the loading area and said "This is my first ride. I think it would be REALLY cool to be in the front seat." The CM smiled and pointed him to "Lane 1". Kristina sat next to a grandmother who was a first timer on R-n-R C. She wasn't too sure she liked the experience. Diane asked her after they got out of the car if she had ever been on an upside-down roller coaster before. She replied "We went upside-down!?!?!?" We bought the photo. Diane took Steven and Kristina, Charles, and I set off to the baby swap re-queue. The CM in the FastPass line stopped us and told us I was only allowed to bring one kid. I've never run into that restriction before, but then again I we only had one kid that could ride R-n-R last year. I dispatched Kristina back to the Gift Shop to rejoin Diane and Steven since she got to ride it several times last year. This CM then measured Charles and said he was "too short". I pointed out he had just gotten off after being cleared by another CM. He at first said "He shouldn't have been allowed in." But then told Charles "Come here and stand up straight" for another measurement. The bottom of the wooden "L" measuring stick they use at R-n-R is pointed while the others used at WDW I've seen are plastic and have flat bottoms. With the pointed bottom you can effectively raise or lower the cross bar by an inch if you don't hold it straight up and down. The CM fiddled with the angle of the stick and then said "OK, go on in." As we waited in line in the boarding area, Charles recounted his first ride in great detail as only an almost 7 year old can. Next it was time for something for Steven. Last year when we took him to go see Bear In the Big Blue House he went totally bananas. Sang, squealed, clapped, and danced the whole time. He acted like a teeny-bopper when the Beatles landed. Given his new phobia to "fur", we thought the reaction might be different this time. Thankfully Bear is still on Steven's "A" list. He was a bit more reserved this time however. He also befriended a young British woman sitting on the floor next to us. He actually sat in her lap for part of the show. We started to pull him off her, but she thought it was precious and said it was fine with her. She was part of a group from the U.K. with some small children, but had none of her own. They didn't seem to know who Bear was but their kids enjoyed the show. After exiting Bear we saw that the next Disney Animation tour was about to begin. At the start of the queue there was a fork in the road, left was "Meet Mickey", and right was "Tour". There was no real line to meet Mickey, so we ducked down that route. Diane and I hoped that there was a slight chance that we could get a photo of Mickey with the three kids. Mickey must have looked like that mouse that surprised him the previous day, because Steven wouldn't go within a 5-foot radius of him. He wouldn't even turn his back on him... side stepping as he passed by. The Disney Animation tour was one of Diane and Charles' favorite attractions at MGM last time, so we joined the next group. The kids enjoyed the "How animation works" film at the start and the time spent with the animator that follows. The Disney classics highlight footage film at the end leaves a lot of moist eyes in the theater. We exited just in time to head to "Prime Time" for our noon seating. It was the first time we'd been there. I thought the theming was great. After a short time in the living room waiting area, we were seated. Each table is made to look as if it is in the middle of a 1950's kitchen. It looks a little strange to look around and see lots of "kitchens" positioned side-by-side, cabinets, counter tops and all. The setup surrounding the meal is that each family consists of visiting cousins and "Mom" is in the real kitchen fixing the meals. If the restaurant staff feels you aren't using proper table manners, or that you aren't eating enough they threaten to tell Mom. All the reviews talk about the funny banter that you will likely encounter there. We only got mild doses of it because Steven had one of his of his few "episodes" during our time at WDW during lunch and they were sympathetic to our plight. After lunch Diane volunteered to take Steven back to our room and give Steven a nap. We still had E-night ahead of us and it seemed like a prudent idea. She and Steven took a bus back to the room while the older two kids and I stayed a while longer at MGM. The rest of us would remain until around 3 PM and take the car back to the room I asked Kristina and Charles what they wanted to do next. It was their call. They wanted to do Rock-N-Roller Coaster one more time. We walked there, but the wait was over 45 minutes so we needed a Plan B. I then suggested Star Tours, Muppet 3-D, or "Honey I Shrunk the Playground". They jumped at the playground. They got a small taste of it last trip, but wanted more. So off we went and the kids played there for about 25 minutes. The one thing I wanted to do at MGM, and knew Kristina and Charles would really like, was the Indiana Jones stunt show. It was closed during our 2000 visit and filled with cheerleaders, so I was happy to see it was up and running this time. We waited in the "stand-by" line for about 10 minutes before they opened things up. During that time the kids whipped out their Gameboys to pass the time. Charles noticed that a grandmotherly type woman was trying to see what it was playing with. He proceeded to, in rapid fire sentences, explain to the woman how to play the game. She thought he was very cute, but declared he might as well be an alien from what little she could understand. We proceeded to find a seat about a 1/3 from the right side of the amphitheater. We were told by the MC to squeeze in to allow more people to sit down. The kids zeroed in, true to form, to the young couple (college aged) sitting on our right and started talking up a storm. We were asked to squeeze in tight again. We do so and I then looked to my right. Charles is sitting in the lap of the young woman on our left! I told him to get down. She laughed and said it was fine with her. Charles was beaming. If I didn't know better, I'd swear my "almost 7" year old he was hitting on her. Kristina decided to follow her brother lead and sat in my lap. As I thought, the kids loved the show. Charles went around all week pretending to beat himself up and taking stunt falls. Back at the hotel Diane hung the privacy sign on the door and she and Steven took a nap. Steven slept well, but Diane wasn't so lucky. The phone rang not long after she crashed. By the time she was fully awake the caller hung up. She was almost back asleep when someone tried to enter the room. She was startled to find it was "lodgekeeping" wanting to clean the room. They saw the privacy sign, but decided to make sure someone was in the room. So they called, and when no one answered they decided to enter the room. By this time Diane and Steven were wide-awake. Apparently the "privacy" signs don't mean much anymore. We got back to the room around 3:30. Diane wanted to try and rest some more so I took the older two kids to the pool for an hour. Now keep in mind that the air temperature that day was around 55 degrees. But the kids really love swimming so since Disney heats the water like bath water it wasn't a problem. It was funny to watch southerners look at Kristina and Charles and say to me "You must be from Canada!" I'd say "No, but close!" We went back to the room and the kids changed back into their clothes. Steven was still asleep, so I took the older two down to the Roaring Forks snack bar for supper. Roaring Forks was one of the more reasonable places to eat that we'd encountered so far. I ordered pizzas for all of us and we waited for them to cook. During that time I developed a sudden urge to use the facilities. There was one next door, so I told Kristina to listen for our order number and I'd be back. The toilet next door was out of order, so I dashed up to the lobby. I returned a couple of minutes later. A rather frantic Kristina saying "Dad, they called our number, I can't find the pizzas, and Charles is choking" greeted me! My daughter has a flair for the dramatic. True, they had called our order number and she couldn't find the little pick-up window in the dining area. However, Charles was not "choking". I had purchased a nachos & cheese appetizer for the kids and a bit of a chip was having trouble making it all the way down and causing him some discomfort. His hot chocolate was too hot, so I gave him some of my coke and all was well. The funniest thing about this whole episode is the relative importance she placed on the crises. Charles "choking" was treated like an afterthought. The food was clearly the foremost thing on her mind. It was if she thought, "Hey, I've got another brother... But I'm really hungry!" After Kristina, Charles, and I finished our pizzas we took some pizza back to the room for Diane and Steven to eat. Steven was still asleep and Diane felt better too. They finished their suppers and we loaded up for E-night at the Magic Kingdom. We arrived later then we had hoped to, around 7:30 PM (The regular park closing was 8 PM). We needed to pick up our wristbands, but there was a LONG line at the exchange location next to City Hall. Diane remembered one of the alternate locations was in Tomorrowland. We went there and asked a CM of the exact location. It's in the Tomorrowland Power and Light Company arcade next to Space Mountain. It worked like a charm. There were about 6 people in line ahead of us. We got the wristbands with about 15 minutes left before the start of E-night. We decided to head to Fantasyland to see if any of the popular rides were in "walk-on" status due to people leaving the area to watch the fireworks. No luck, so we opted for another round of Small World. Each time we rode it during our stay Steven got more excited on this ride. He'd stand on the seat between Diane and me, hold on to the handrail, dance, and sing. As we rode, we could hear the fireworks explode outside. The sound was pretty cool. After exiting Small World, E-Night was underway. E-night was fantastic during our last trip. We walked on about everything. Would it be the same this time? We thought we were in trouble as we approached Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. There was a line about 50 feet out of the door! Oh, man! I thought we'd have a 30 minute wait. Thankfully I was wrong. There was no line inside and the line outside was due to the CM at the door having to explain to about half the people trying to get in that they needed wristbands to do so. We were boarding our car a couple of minutes later. Steven wasn't too sure about this ride... until he discovered he could work the spin control. After that he really liked it. The first time through I spotted one of the hidden targets. It's at about the 10 o'clock position of the exit door of the "hyper-drive" room. That's the parabolic shaped room where Zurg flies around in front of you. Look for the round "nub" like the ones on the marked targets. We exited and hopped on the ride again. I added about 100,000 points in that room the second time around. From there we moved next door to Space Mountain. I took the older two and Diane went to the arcade waiting area. Last year they only had the Alpha track open, but this time they had both sides open. So we opted for the Beta track. They line was very short and we were on in a couple of minutes. We then did a baby swap and the older two kids and Diane rode SM again. Frontierland was next on the radar. We rode Big Thunder Mt. Railroad (Diane first, and then we baby swapped) next with no real wait in line. After that we moved next door to Splash Mountain. I took Kristina and Charles first and Diane let Steven play in the baby play area they have by the queue. This was the fifth time I'd ridden "Splash" in my life, and I've always ridden it at night. The kids loved it. I succeeded in staying dry. I baby swapped with Diane and off they went again. It sure seemed like they were gone a long time. I didn't realize that Splash Mt. was that long of a ride. After about 25 minutes, they reappeared. It turned out I wasn't going crazy, the CM's let them ride twice in a row. Next we moved on to the Haunted Mansion as the last activity of the evening. I recalled that both Kristina and Charles enjoyed it last year. But to our surprise they were apprehensive about going. It took a little prodding to turn them around. It turned out Charles recalled "the stretching room" and didn't really like it. But once we were inside they were fine. Steven liked the hitchhiking ghost that rode along with him. So E-night was over. Time to go back to WL. Diane said we had to take the monorail over to the main parking lot Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and then catch a bus to get home. With all the resort buses that depart right from the MK main gate, that didn't sound right to me. So we walked over to the "bus depot" and sure enough she was right. We ended up waiting for a monorail over to the TTC and then caught the "Boone" bus back to WL. For whatever reason, WL and Ft. Wilderness are the ONLY two non-monorail resorts that don't have pickups at the MK main gate. We had to wait about 15 minutes before a bus showed up. It took us about 60 minutes to get from MK back to our rooms. This was the only real transportation flaw in the Disney system we encountered.