The NASTEE (Nate And Spencer Trip ExtraordinairE) Trip Report--Day 6 (Part 2): "Hey, It's The Viking Of The Day!" Cast: Nate ("Aerobics"): 24, 4th trip to WDW, 1st trip in 12 years, 1st time staying on property Spencer (Anti-aerobic): 29, 8th trip to WDW, hasn't stayed on property since 1992 Dates: September 16-23, 2000 Lodging: Wilderness Lodge--September 16-21, 2000 All Star Music--September 22, 2000 After waiting only a few minutes, they finally dropped the rope at the World Showcase and we, along with about 90 other people, quickly made our way toward the Mexico pavilion. However, as we approached Mexico, we noticed that everybody (and I mean just about everybody) was heading into the huge pyramid-shaped pavilion, presumably to ride El Rio Del Tiempo. Since we had tentative plans to eat at the Mexico pavilion that evening, we decided that it wasn't absolutely necessary for us to see this attraction right now. So, we continued on to Norway. As we got closer to this country's pavilion, we stopped short. The Norwegians had formed a "welcome chain" that stretched clear across the walkway. There were about 12 of them in total just standing there, waving little Norwegian flags or ringing cow bells (at least, I think that they were cow bells) or simply just waving to the guests). If you wanted to somehow bypass their modified version of "Red Rover" (without visiting their pavilion), you'd have to walk down this little side path that brings you close to the edge of the World Showcase lagoon. We thought that this was definitely one of those "Kodak moments", so we stopped to take a picture. As we stood there (me waving at the Norwegians, and Spencer clicking the camera), we were approached by one of the Nordic women (we later found out that her name was Siv (pronounced just like the utensil)). And, before you could say Akershus (which I couldn't say correctly if I had all day long to try ), she had placed upon my brow an official (yet plastic) Viking's helmet. I was then officially dubbed "The Viking of the Day", which, upon my "knighting", brought cheers and laughter from the rest of the Norwegian Welcome Wagon. (Those of you who own the WDW 2000 Planning Video should remember a little clip in which a few blonde Nordic women heartily place a Viking's helmet on the head of a younger man--well, this was the exact same thing. Isn't that cool?) I was even given a special Magical Millennium Moments certificate with my name on it (written in INK! ). So, I posed for another pic with Siv and then we (Spencer, the Norwegians, and the Viking (pronounced "Wye-king") of the Day, that is) all headed into the Norway pavilion. When I tried to return their helmet to them (which I thought they would have wanted back), they insisted that I keep it, so I did (and in honor of that experience, I am currently wearing that helmet as I type... ). As we made our way through the pavilion, I was personally greeted by each of the CMs there--this truly was a magical moment for me. However, may I take a moment to discuss w/you an important issue (well, at least I consider it to be important)? As wonderful as I find these discussion boards to be, I would like to state that it seems as though we might be setting our expectations just a little too high. Now that we've got so much information at our fingertips, gone are the days of being absolutely astonished by "magical moments" (such as being dubbed the Viking of the Day); instead, I've read a disturbing number of trip reports from people who express displeasure because they feel as though they were "cheated" because housekeeping didn't do anything special with the 93 stuffed animals which had been left out on the bed. One thing that made this trip so phenomenally magical for us was that we went in with no expectations, other than the fact that we were ready to have the time of our lives. All of the additional magic which happened (our welcome basket from the cast of the WL, housekeeping's daily towel-based creations, patio seating at Rose & Crown for IllumiNations, etc.) only made it that much more wondrous. But, would we have been upset had these things not happened to us? Absolutely not, because we were still at the Happiest Place on Earth! These trip reports can be dangerous, because we'll read about all of the magical things that happened to other people, and we'll get up our hopes that the same things could happen on our trip. In fact, a co-worker actually asked me to describe in detail how I obtained the Viking helmet, because she wanted to ensure that the same thing would happen to her child on her next trip. Am I the only one who cringes when I hear that? Magical moments are not to be planned and researched...they are to be experienced! I do hope that I'm not coming off as rude or anything, but I just wanted to express that it's so very important (especially when children are involved) that we remember that any of these magical moments are simply that--magical, spontaneous, special, or any other synonym that you can think of. PLEASE don't let your trip be ruined because your fantastical expectations weren't met--instead, focus on all of the wonderful, spontaneous, (personally) magical things that did happen while you were at WDW. Use those events to build your memories that will last a lifetime. (Thanks for listening--I didn't mean for that to go on as long as it did, but I'd be glad to hear any feedback from you guys on the issue.) Anyway, I really felt like a TV star (a Norwegian TV star, I guess? ) as we boarded our own personal Viking ship (appropriately manned by the Viking of the Day). I had never before been on this ride, and we both really enjoyed it. The "backwards" hill was a nice touch--certainly unexpected, even by someone as brave as the Viking of the Day. (Hey, it's my one moment of fame--I've got to milk it for all that it's worth! ) After braving the North Sea storm, we were greeted by more Norwegians who inquired whether I had paved the way for the less brave "non-Vikings". This was too funny! You'd think that they'd get sick of doing this on a daily basis, but they just played right along, only adding to the magic. We were quickly seated with about 15 other people to watch the film. As the lights dimmed, the CM talked a little bit about her great Scandinavian country, and then said, "So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...and Viking of the Day, enjoy Norway!" Is it any wonder why I am now a huge fan of herring? (Just kidding!) After the film (which we enjoyed immensely, just like all of the other films in the World Showcase pavilions), we shopped around a little bit, chatting w/the different Norwegian CMs. I had the crap scared out of me by some big troll thing in one of the shops (some brave Viking I turned out to be, huh?). We eventually ran into Siv again, and spent about 10 minutes just talking to her about Norway (duh!), the United States, WDW, etc. It turns out that she had lived in Washington, DC for a little while, but this was before Spencer and I had moved into the area...and to think that we were almost neighbors! (So, if you go to Norway, and you see Siv, tell her that the 2 guys from DC that she met in September say "Hello"!) So, Spencer and the Viking (I promise, that'll be the last reference for awhile ) next visited China. We started by going to view the 360-degree film Wonders of China. As we waited, we listened to a conversation between 2 Caucasian couples, each of which had adopted a Chinese baby. However, the first couple's adopted child had already grown up and left the house, while the other couple's child was only about 4 years old (and appropriately, present at the time). As I learned from their conversation, apparently, the overpopulation in China and Japan is much worse than Americans care to realize and there really is a need for more people to be aware of it. Without trying to sound hypocritical, I then issued a personal conviction to learn more about this issue--however, I have not had the opportunity to research it, but I figure that at least 7 or 8 other people will probably read this report (perhaps 9, if I'm really lucky ). If I can reach just one person and that person then goes out and tells his/her friends, then I'll at least have done one good deed today. China is a fascinating country, and although this film does not get good reviews from most Disney guidebooks, I still recommend that you try to make time to see this one. There's so much about Eastern culture that we just don't understand--this may be simply one way to educate ourselves. The aerial shots of the Great Wall of China are astonishing and the pictures of the Forbidden City are eye-opening, as well. I was a little disappointed to see that Mulan wasn't represented in the movie--heck, she saved all of China! Doesn't she at least deserve an honorable mention? (I'm just kidding, but I do love Mulan, and I'd probably hang out w/her sometime--you know, if she wasn't like, saving some other country or something ) After we exited the theatre, we visited some of the shops. We ended up buying a buttload of really cool stuff here. When we left, we had amassed 6 smaller candles, this one totally kick-butt dragon yin-yang candle (of which they only had 1 remaining), some Buddhas, and some really great tea which was personally recommended to me by Xing from Shanghai. Of course, she made me promise to come back to visit her at the China pavilion once I'd had an opportunity to go home and try some of the tea. So, if you happen to see Xing, tell her that I love the Jasmine tea! (as if she'll remember me! ) On our way to Germany and Italy, we bypassed the Outpost, and it wasn't until after I got back home that I realized that I had wanted to stop there. Oh, well! Next time, eh? We next browsed Germany and Italy, but unfortunately, we were running under a (slightly) tight schedule, as we had wanted to get to Typhoon Lagoon by 2:00 p.m. (we had brought all of our swimming gear w/us). So, we didn't get to spend as much time here as I would have liked, but my list of Things That I Want To See Next Time just keeps growing and growing, as these 2 pavilions (and also the American Adventure, which we skipped altogether, having already seen The Hall of Presidents earlier in the week) have been added to the list. Our last pavilion of the day was Japan. It thought that this pavilion was magnificently done--the architecture, the streams, the gardens...everything. I have a friend over in Japan (Tokyo, specifically) who's been begging me to come visit her--after seeing this pavilion, I just might have to take her up on that offer. The exhibit which was on display while we were there highlighted (I believe) games, leisure, and recreation in Japanese culture. They had this really cool little hand-held game at which both Spencer and I really sucked. It's a wooden handle w/little "bowls" of various sizes on each of its 4 sides. Attached to the handle by a string is a wooden ball, and the object is to toss the ball up into the air (by a flick of the wrist) and then catch it in one of the 4 "bowls" (or even on the top of the handle, since the ball did have a hole in it). Well, we couldn't even get the ball to catch once, but the CM there was able to just go on this thing. That was really neat to watch! We then headed into the Mitsukoshi "chain" store, which from what I can recall, has been around for like 300 years now or something? Anyway, they have the coolest chopsticks here, and they're really inexpensive, too. Spencer and I used to order Chinese food about once every 2 weeks and we always had to ask them to include chopsticks; but, now, we can just use our own personal chopsticks! Totally cool! We also bought a little ceramic Lucky Cat which, according to legend, is supposed to bring good fortune to your household if placed at the entrance to your home. However, after a year (I suppose even a Lucky Cat needs a vacation now and then), you are supposed to thank the Lucky Cat for a job well done and place him/her in a shrine. I'll let you all know in a year if the Lucky Cat brought any good fortune to my sister (which is to whom I gave the Lucky Cat). Noticing that we were getting pretty hot and sweaty, we called it quits for the World Showcase for the time being, promising ourselves that we'd pick up the rest of the pavilions either later that night before Tapestry of Nations (our 3rd attempt at viewing this parade), or on the following day. Since we were so close to the International Gateway, we opted to exit Epcot there and head toward the Boardwalk, where we planned on boarding a Downtown Disney/Typhoon Lagoon-bound bus. We had originally planned on walking the route this time (since it wasn't raining, and I wanted to get a better look at the Yacht and Beach Club resorts), but the boat was right there, so we hopped on board. Next stop...Typhoon Lagoon! And, still to come: The NASTEE Trip Report--Day 6 (Part 3): Finally, A Magical WDW Bus Driver! Somebody call I-X-I-I!!!