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Topic: Koster Trip 6/12-21/03 Fort Wilderness & Star Wars, Meeting Dreamfinder / Star Wars Weekend!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >

RichKoster Offline

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Posted: Sep. 21, 2003 9:01 am/pm Quote

Friday, 6/13/03: Fort Wilderness for a first-timer

This part of the trip report picks things up after we've arrived and checked into Fort Wilderness Resort.

First impression:
Our first impression of our cabin was Wow! This is just like living at WDW! This feeling continued through our entire 8 night/9 day stay there.

What we did first:
The first thing we did, as well as unloading everything out of our Minnie-van, was to call Mousekeeping about getting the barbecue grill cleaned and for them to take care of the ant mound next to the driveway. It was right near the rear passenger door and we didn't want any of us to step down from the van right into a mound of angry ants!

The best thing about staying in a Fort Wilderness cabin:
We loved having 2 rooms plus a bath and full kitchen. We didn't use the outdoor table because it was too hot and then turned quite rainy, but we used the outdoor grill for a few meals. Having your car or van parked literally a foot or two away from the cabin is super-convenient! We liked how the cabin had a raised wood deck as well as a paved driveway and walkway - - we didn't get any mud on us at all. The videocassette player is very handy to view tapes and I'm glad that the cables to the TV and that player are accessible because I brought our VCR from home in order to record some of the resort channel programming. That way whenever we want to feel like we're still staying at a Disney Resort, we can just watch the tape at home!
:tounge:
I also took the opportunity to play back what we shot in the camcorder and record it on blank tapes we brought from home to be able to record in our VCR. This created more recordable space on our camcorder tapes, although I did keep some as "masters" and didn't record over them.

First great idea: Hey, we can keep our "blue ice" solidly frozen for the trip home right in the kitchen freezer! No need to go find the community ice-making machine.
:idea:

Home Away From Home Conveniences:
Other pluses were cooking on the stove and using the oven, microwave, outside grill, and our crockpot. Having the dishwasher for the supplied dishes, pots & pans, cups, bowls, etc. is a wonderful thing to have on vacation.

Pools:
We swam in the Fort Wilderness pools for the first time. Both pools are huge, but they have no slides. The water is very warm and it is like taking a bath instead of a chilling pool -- and that feels great! Neither pool has a hot tub or whirlpool, though, but a CM at one of the pools told us to use the one at the Wilderness Lodge if it wasn't busy. I thanked her for the advice but didn't take her up on it because it clearly says on one of the provided maps of Fort Wilderness that the WL pools are only for WL Guests, just like the FW pools are only for FW Guests.
:tsk:

Location, Location, Location:
We loved our location in Loop 2500 - Cedar Circle. Our cabin was #2518, roughly halfway around the loop, on the left. It was a nice, quiet atmosphere and the great view included the woods and neighboring cabins, with many trees and bushes in between the cabins. According to the map there is a creek out behind where we were, but the forest is so thick we couldn't see it.

Click here to see an aerial view zoomed in to Fort Wilderness Resort, with our cabin approximately in the center of the picture (assuming MapQuest is working properly - - those overhead images sometimes get messed up). Cedar Circle is that rounded rectangle you see in the middle of the photo and our cabin was roughly in the middle of that top-mosted part of Cedar Circle. If you follow the Cedar Circle loop to the lower right, you'll see where it connects to the main road in that part of Fort Wilderness and you can also see a Disney bus stopped there at the corner. Yes, the bus stop (on both sides of that road) is that close to where we stayed, and yet we didn't hear any noises from the road at all.
:coolgrin:

Lunchtime!
It was already after 1 o'clock and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. Tonight we had Priority Seating (PS) at Chef Mickey's so we needed to eat something soon but not fill up too much because we didn't want to be stuffed for supper.

So what better place for lunch than the all-you-can-eat buffet at Trail's End?!?
:rolleyes:
Actually, we didn't overeat and just wanted something where we wouldn't have to wait for the food to be ready - - plus we wanted to explore more of Fort Wilderness before heading out to the parks. Hey, we're camping in the wilderness, you know?
:eyebrow:

So, we did what any good settler of the wilderness did in the days of the old west, and left the air-conditioned comforts of our plush cabin to take a short walk along the tree-lined, well-maintained street of Cedar Circle until we passed by the laundry building and pool on our right, crossed the main road and were soon at the covered bus stop. Us pioneers then boarded the air-conditioned bus and sped off to the Settlement depot, where we got out and mozied along towards Pioneer Hall. We stopped along the way to literally stop and smell the roses, as well as to look inside the RV on display near there and spot our first peacock of the trip. Yes, they sure can be noisy! Glad we didn't have any back where the cabins are.
:lookaround:

As we walked past Pioneer Hall I pointed out to DS Michael that it was the location of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue which we'd attend later in our vacation. Then we entered Trail's End restaurant and were seated right away. We enjoyed eating there: the food is good and the atmosphere make you think Davy Crockett might walk in at any minute. In fact, Crockett's Tavern is right next door and can be seen from inside Trail's End!
:coonskin:

Carol made a note to come back one night for the peal 'n eat shrimp they serve at suppertime. Our lunch, although tasty and quick, cost $31.55... Maybe we should have tried out our wilderness kitchen!
:dollar:

We're merrily on our way...
After a fine meal in this buffeteria we waited at the Settlement bus stop for a bus to take us to the Disney-MGM Studios, but after a bit we decided to take a bus back to our cabin and drive our van to D-MGM instead because we thought that would be quicker and more convenient.

We decided to go back and use our own van for a number of reasons. First, the bus to D-MGM was taking its sweet time in getting there and meanwhile we saw many busses come and go which would have taken us back to our cabin immediately. Second, we knew we'd have to reverse the procedure when we were done at D-MGM - - get on a bus after perhaps waiting for it, then going to the Settlement Depot at Fort Willderness and taking another bus to our cabin. Third, it was already 2:10 pm when we left Trail's End and we wouldn't have much time in the park. Fourth, we had Priority Seating that night at Chef Mickey's, so we didn't want to be late getting there because of two bus rides possibly delaying us.

It was very quick to get back to the cabin, then hop in our van, and then arrive at D-MGM with no problem.

Next report: Disney-MGM Studios for the first day of WDW's last Star Wars Weekend of 2003

Any questions or comments? Reply and I'll be happy to answer.
:)


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RichKoster Offline

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Posted: Sep. 24, 2003 1:42 am/pm Quote

After lunch on Friday, 6/13/03: Disney-MGM Studios for the first day of WDW's last Star Wars Weekend of 2003

We pick up this part of the trip report after leaving Fort Wilderness following a late lunch.

D-MGM: The first theme park of this trip
It was 3 o'clock when we parked our Minnie-Van in the Donald Music 51 section of the parking lot at the Disney-MGM Studios. Star Wars theme music was playing in the park, which could be heard when approaching the entry gate from where we were dropped off from the parking lot tram.

We saw the large banner for the Star Wars Weekend to our right as we approached the baggage check area -- it featured Mickey and Yoda dressed in Jedi robes, ready to take on the dark side of the force together, back to back with their light sabers activated.

Since we got to D-MGM so late that Friday afternoon, there were only two shows left that day of the Jedi Training Academy, the big Star Wars event that Michael was most interested in (see below). Noticing that we had some time before the start of the next show, I asked around and finally found where I could buy Pal Mickey.

Pal Mickey Quest
We found Pal Mickey at Celebrity 5 & 10 and I immediately picked one from the shelves where many of them were displayed and brought it to the CM at the cash register. I had been wanting a Pal Mickey of my own ever since I first had him for an hour on our previous trip and it only took me 16 minutes after parking our Minnie-van in the lot at D-MGM before I had bought my own Pal Mickey and had him in my hands.
:mickey:

We read the directions, switched Pal Mickey on, and left the store, heading towards the direction of Star Tours. More about Pal Mickey coming up!

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars!
Not only were we there for the first day of the last of this year's Star Wars Weekends, we also went there on Saturday and Sunday, too. Why? Well, that would be jumping ahead in the story, so you'll have to wait for me to tell you and/or figure it out for yourself before I get there.

Michael is a huge Star Wars fan so he was very excited to be attending Star Wars Weekend at WDW. The are usually take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday on 4 or 5 weekends in May and June and this year it was held May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-31/June 1, June 6-8, and June 13-15. Many actors from the Star Wars movies appear each weekend. When we were there Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) and Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing) were available for autographs, but Michael was more interested in the costumed Star Wars Characters so we didn't get in any of the lines to meet them personally.

Who here wants to become a Jedi?
The event that Michael was most excited about was the Jedi Training Academy, in which several kids are chosen by a Jedi Master at this event many times throughout the day to come up on stage, wear the Jedi robes, and learn from their Jedi Master on the proper use of a light saber, including how to learn the moves they'll need to use when they come face to face with Darth Vader. At the end of each event, each youngster actually tests their newly-acquired skills one-on-one against Darth Vader himself.

You don't have to be a kid to want to take part in that! So you can imagine how eager Michael was to get picked for that event. We arrived at the stage set up next to Star Tours and got a place near the front, where Michael would be seen. Carol and I stayed back a bit, as all the adults were instructed to move back and leave room for the kids up front. We did our best to cheer Michael on as he tried to be picked to be among the lucky kids to become a Jedi Padawan -- a Jedi Master-In-Training -- and get a chance to battle Darth Vader. But maybe some Friday the 13th bad luck was coming our way, because he didn't get picked for that show.

Michael was very disappointed, so we entered Tatooine Traders to cool off, calm down, and let Michael buy some Star Wars toys with the money he brought from home for this.

Pal Mickey thinks we're at the Magic Kingdom!
Note that I hadn't brought Pal Mickey in through the D-MGM entrance gate because of buying it inside the park at Celebrity 5 & 10, so that probably explains the weird behavior he exhibited to us at first. Pal Mickey seemed to think he was in the Magic Kingdom and not at D-MGM because when he was triggered inside that park he was telling me about things in the Magic Kingdom! At one point when I was walking around D-MGM near Indiana Jones he told me about the Haunted Mansion!
:ghostface: LOL

Apparently he defaults to the Magic Kingdom when not reset automatically by receiving some sort of "You are entering the D-MGM Studios" signal (since he was turned off when he was delivered to the store and I turned him on while already inside D-MGM). I had a very nice CM at one of the Tatooine Traders cash registers do the reset bit for me and he worked fine after that even without having to leave the park and going back inside through the entrance gate. So talk of the Cast Members being able to do a "reset download" on Pal Mickey seems to be true. My guess is that he's not really downloading much information, just where he is and perhaps the current time.

So, it seems like some of the same infra-red codes are shared in the different parks, and Mickey responds based on him "knowing" which park he is in.
:smart:

Shopping at Tatooine Traders
At Tatooine Traders we bought two t-shirts (one for Michael and one for me, Carol didn't want one) of Mickey &  Yoda and the Star Wars Weekend logo, which looked exactly like the large sign at the D-MGM package check and entry area. Michael also bought two small Star Wars toys. The total was $61.77 and the time was 3:44 pm -- time to try out to become a Jedi agaiin!

Jedi Training Academy: Take 2
With the Star Wars theme inspiring us to greatness, we once again cheered for Michael as he tried to be picked by the Jedi Master to be one of the lucky ones to go up on stage and learn how to be a Jedi Master. But once again it was not to be. Michael wasn't picked for either show that day. But we were all willing to come back to D-MGM the next day and hopeful that Michael would be picked then.

This time, we headed to Backlot Express to cool off and get some drinks. It cost us $7.38 for one large Coke, one large Sprite and one bottle of water -- but it was worth it. Did I tell you it was hot, very sunny, and there was no shade at the Star Wars stage? Well, let's just say we were literally sweating it out each time Michael tried to get picked for the Jedi event.
:devil:

While we relaxed and regrouped in Backlot Express, Michael enjoyed playing a Star Wars video game (75 cents).

If it's Friday the 13th, it must be Tower of Terror
I was able to do one of the things that I had wanted to do that day. Since it was Friday the 13th, I thought it would be neat to ride the Tower of Terror. Well, I rode it and it was great! This was only my second time riding it with the newer ToT4 programming -- the first time was on our last trip in April 2003 -- and before that it had been a few years since I rode it when it still had the original programming. I thought it would be too intense for Michael and besides, he didn't want to ride it. He actually went with Carol and me through the pre-show of the attraction and through the queue in the boiler room, but the two of them took the "chicken" exit before boarding the "haunted" elevator, then waited for me in the gift shop.

It was fun riding ToT on Friday the 13th, especially with the "13" motif woven into the attraction. Did you realize that when the "B" on your elevator door opens up after the ride is over, it splits in half with "|" on the left door and "[/b]3[/b]" on the right door? That's right -- the Basement is also floor 13!
:o

Next report: Chef Mickey's!


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Ciavobella Offline

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Posted: Sep. 25, 2003 10:20 am/pm Quote

Quote
Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars!


Were you singing a number made famous by my favorite lounge singer? :clap:

Enjoying reading about your trip into the wilderness. You'all hurry back with more now ya hear.  :coonskin:

Karen


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Sometimes, when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things,you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
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RichKoster Offline

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Posted: Sep. 25, 2003 10:26 am/pm Quote

Quote (Ciavobella @ Sep. 25, 2003 9:20 am/pm)
Quote
Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars!


Were you singing a number made famous by my favorite lounge singer? :clap:

Yup! :nod:

Quote
Enjoying reading about your trip into the wilderness. You'all hurry back with more now ya hear.  :coonskin:

Karen


Thank you, Karen! I have to hurry and finish writing my trip report from our last trip because we leave to return to WDW next week -- we'll be there a week from today!
:wwww:


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Liv2CdWorld Offline

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Posted: Sep. 26, 2003 11:41 am/pm Quote

Great report!

How do the kids "try" to be picked?  Do they have to yell, jump up and down? LOL

Just cursious! :D


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RichKoster Offline

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Posted: Sep. 26, 2003 5:05 am/pm Quote

Quote (Liv2CdWorld @ Sep. 26, 2003 10:41 am/pm)
Great report!

How do the kids "try" to be picked?  Do they have to yell, jump up and down? LOL

Just cursious! :D

I could give you the secret -- but that would be telling!  :eyebrow:

Actually, you have the right idea - - but we were given many other tips, too.

I'll fill you in... all in good time (in either the next report or the one after it).

Stay "tooned"! And thanks for the kind words. :)


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Posted: Sep. 29, 2003 2:01 am/pm Quote

Koster trip report: Friday night, 6/13/03

I pick up the report after we've left the Disney-MGM Studios and are heading to Chef Mickey's for supper.

The worst thing today: Michael not getting picked at the Star Wars event plus the heat and no shade at the Star Wars stage.

The best thing today:
Buying Pal Mickey and touring D-MGM with his jokes and advice, then bringing him along with us to Chef Mickey’s for supper.

Chef Mickey’s
We drove to Disney’s Contemporary Resort in our Minnie-Van and parked directly in front of the Contemporary Tower at the nearest empty space which was in one of the rows furthest away from the building. After locking the van and taking a few steps towards the resort I ran back and got Pal Mickey, because I had almost forgotten to bring him inside with us. You see, when I was driving I unclipped him from my belt to make it easier to put on the seatbelt and then in the excitement of going to our favorite Character meal location I didn’t think to pick him up again. No time lost, however, as I quickly trotted back to my DW Carol and DS Michael.

As we got into the elevator I thought at first that Disney had removed the voices in it. But then Minnie spoke to us, which made me smile. We arrived at Chef Mickey’s right on time for our 8:45 pm Priority Seating. When I had called to make the PS at home I was a bit disappointed that the earliest they could make it was so late at night, but actually the timing worked out great for us. We wouldn’t be able to go to both Chef Mickey’s and the Fort Wilderness campfire program (that night’s movie: Beauty and the Beast), but we were glad to be eatin’ with the Mouse. After getting our picture taken and then waiting a bit for our table to be ready, we were seated in the part of the restaurant that is closest to the desserts. Well, that sure is convenient!
;)

Our CM waitperson was Annie P. who asked us how we were. When we said we were a bit tired she confided that she was, too. That might be one drawback to getting such a late seating… although her service was fine overall, she later forgot to bring Carol and me more beer when we asked her to. We chalked it up to the lateness in the evening and her being tired and decided to cancel the order for more beer when it still hadn’t arrived when our bill came.

Although we had arrived feeling tired and Michael was still feeling dejected at not being picked at the Jedi Training Academy event two times, the fun atmosphere and goings-on at Chef Mickey’s eventually cheered all of us up and we felt better. The Characters certainly did their part to brighten our spirits. It was fun interacting with them, especially letting them see our Pal Mickey. Minnie was very cute watching the puppet show Michael put on for her using Pal Mickey as a puppet. That seemed delighted by Michael’s antics! She also acted charmed when I kissed her on her Toony-gloved hand when she first came to our table. Chip was feeling very mischievous when he came to our table. When Michael showed him Pal Mickey, he was very interested and then clipped it to his apron and tried to nonchalantly walk away with our Pal Mickey! Michael soon convinced him to give it back, with Chip first pretending that he didn’t have anything on him.
LOL

Donald Duck stayed out in the entrance area of the restaurant, where we’ve seen Goofy hanging out on previous meals at Chef Mickey’s (this time Goofy mingled with all the diners at their tables). Michael and I approached Donald and got a picture with him. We also showed Pal Mickey to him and he didn’t seem impressed. That Donald! I told him that maybe one day they’d make a Pal Donald, but then I said perhaps the reason why Disney hasn’t made one yet is because nobody would understand any of the tips and jokes Pal Donald would be telling them. It was fun teasing Donald this way and seeing his reaction to this (pretending to be upset) but I got the last word in on the subject… Donald was speechless.
:hush: :wink2:

The food was good as always at Chef Mickey’s. We like going there for supper as well as breakfast. With Carol and I having beer, the bill for the three of us came to $70.80 plus tip. That’s not counting the $21.30 (including tax) we paid for the refrigerator magnet photo and keychain photo of us that we also bought. What happened to just being able to buy a nice-sized photo alone without all those other things in the package we really didn’t want?

I made sure Michael took some of the cheesy mashed potatoes along with him pizza, and Carol & I did, too. We had heard how good they were from other people’s reports. Carol and I loved them, but Michael didn’t care for the mashed potatoes with cheese blended into them. Oh well, can’t blame Mickey for trying to share his cheese with us.
:D

Another dish we tried was the macaroni and cheese. Just before our trip we had seen a show on the Food Network which showed how all the Disney chefs had done taste tests with kids to decide the one way that all of the mac & cheese would be made at all of the WDW restaurants and the high marks the kids gave the winning recipe. Well, Michael didn’t think the “kid-tested” mac & cheese was anything special and prefers Kraft macaroni and cheese which we make at home.

The desserts were great and besides having brownies, cake and making our own ice cream sundaes with the toppings we desired we were disappointed by one thing. On that same Food Network TV show, the desserts at Chef Mickey’s were featured. The show gave the impression Chef Mickey’s had new design-your-own desserts, such as one with a small, edible Sorcerer Mickey hat and other fun things. Well, that type of designer desserts were nowhere to be found. Has anybody seen that at Chef Mickey’s this year, other than on the TV show? I wonder if it was a made-for-TV-only set of desserts. Not seeing those desserts reminded me of when I was a kid and my Dad and I went to Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada (kind of like a small World’s Fair, especially after having attended both years of the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65). When we went to the USSR exhibit there I was disappointed to find out that the free samples of caviar I had seen kids eating at that pavilion on one of my favorite kids TV shows was just something dreamed up for that show and wasn’t a normal part of what you got to experience at that attraction. Did the same thing happen at Chef Mickey’s… are the “designer desserts” something that was just for the TV show – or have others gotten these treats for themselves there and we just missed out somehow? Reply if you know!

It was quite late when we were done with our meal and finished paying the bill at 10:10 pm. The Characters had gone to bed already, so we were told, and the music had been switched from up and peppy to soft and get-out-of-here.
;)

It was nice to be able to just get into our Minnie-Van and drive directly back to our cabin, rather than taking a boat from the Contemporary’s marina over to the Fort Wilderness marina, then walking to the Settlement bus depot and waiting for a bus there, then taking it to our bus stop and walking the rest of the way to our cabin. Sometimes having your own transportation is the best.

Now it’s off to bed, off to bed!

We put Michael to bed in one of the bunks and then closed the door to the bedroom to have some privacy in the living room/kitchen. That was a very nice luxury and felt homey. We’re used to a king-size bed at home so Carol and I decided to alternate sleeping in the double-sized Murphy bed in the living room and the double bed in the bedroom in order to give us more room. Tonight Carol picked the Murphy bed for herself and watched the cabin’s TV while relaxing in bed before drifiting off to sleep.

Late Night Shopping with Rich the Groceryman

Because we had decided to go straight to check-in when we arrived earlier that day instead of stopping in Kissimmee at a Publix to pick up some groceries – and because we didn’t have any breakfast items and I wasn’t sleepy yet – I decided to go grocery shopping while Carol and Michael slept. I drove to the Publix that I had gotten directions for, the one closest to Fort Wilderness. But when I got there, the store was dark! It hadn’t gone out of business, but simply wasn’t open 24 hours. I hadn’t thought of that! I’m used to 24-hour supermarkets where I live. It was very late at night so when I couldn’t immediately find the Kissimmee Wal-Mart (plus I was wondering at that point if perhaps it would be not open 24 hours and would be closed like the Publix supermarket), I headed back the way I came, looking for another grocery store that would be open. I knew Goodings at the CrossRoads shopping center was open 24 hours, but that would be my last resort because their prices are so high. Just north of the CrossRoads shopping center I saw a Winn Dixie Marketplace, but it too was closed for the night, so I kept going. Highway 535/Apopka Vineland Road became “Wickham Way” and after driving miles through a fancy residential area southeast of the tony town of Windermere while thinking to myself “surely there’s a 24-hour supermarket someplace nearby with all of these nice houses,” I turned right on Sand Lake Road, recognizing it as a main road that connects with interstate 4. Soon afterwards, even before I got to I-4, I found many shopping centers along that road including one with a 24-hour Albertsons. Hooray! I was able to find everything on our list and headed to check-out. The time: just after 2 am. The check-out clerk: apologetic that it was too late for me to buy the 6-pack of beer in my shopping cart. Dang! I wasn’t used to the no late-night-liquor law because we don’t have such restrictions where I live near New Orleans. I guess that’s why Pleasure Island closes late at night, too, instead of staying open all night like French Quarter bars.
:sleepy:

Oh well, he understood that I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one on him and that I was just not from those parts, so I just bought the other things in my cart: food which we’d cook in our cabin’s kitchen and outdoor grill, milk and other non-beer drinks, matches for lighting the grill, and lighter fluid. I came back 4 days later and got a refund on the lighter fluid because it turned out that the type of charcoal briquets that the Fort Wilderness CM gave me would light just using a match. Chalk it up to not having camped in decades!

I drove back to the cabin and quietly put away all the groceries, then headed to the bedroom to join the others in dreamland. It was a great first day (and into the next day for me! ) at Walt Disney World, but certainly time to catch some Z’s to be able to get up bright and early on Saturday to answer Mickey’s wake-up call.

Next: Back to D-MGM for more Star Wars!


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Posted: Sep. 29, 2003 6:12 am/pm Quote

Saturday, 6/14/03: More Star Tours Weekend and Gary's advice at Trail's End

Also in this report:

Sunday, 6/15/03: Sunday Mass, Last chance at Star Tours Weekend, Best Burgers in WDW, and "My Little Buttercup" on Father's Day at Whispering Canyon Cafe

We all slept well Friday night and awoke to Mickey's early wake-up call. We enjoyed being able to pad about in our PJs, gradually getting over our grogginess while eating a pleasant breakfast in our own kitchen. Thanks to my grocery shopping the night before (actually, early that morning), we each had our favorites: Michael with his chocolate Eggo waffles, Carol with scrambled eggs, me with my microwaved pancakes, our favorite brand of coffee we brought from home for Carol and me, plus all of us also had orange juice and something I picked up which wasn't on the list: bacon! Mmmm, mmmm! It sure is great to smell the aroma and taste bacon out in the woods.
:nod:

Disney-MGM Studios, Take Two!

It was Extra Magic Hour (EMH, or what used to be referred to as "Early Entry" day) at D-MGM today, so we didn't take too long eating breakfast and getting dressed. We also didn't fool around with Disney transporation, but hopped in our Minnie-Van and quickly arrived at the D-MGM parking lot, where we were waved through with a smile by the CM at the toll plaza, without having to pay for parking thanks to the printed sign Disney gave us which showed we were Fort Wilderness Resort Guests. We made a note that we parked in Goofy Film, row 30, and hopped aboard the parking lot tram.

Jedi Training Academy: Again and again and again and...
The weather today was hot and very sunny! :devil:

The funniest thing today was being at D-MGM right when it opened and having the Storm Troopers atop the entry gate area point their blasters at us in frustration while Michael and I taunted them from below.

There were 9 Jedi Training Academy shows scheduled for that day and Michael tried out for most of them, but still didn't get picked.
:(

We all vowed to give it one more try the next day. Even though Michael had said in April that he wanted to ride Star Tours again on this trip, he didn't feel like it any of the times we were at the Disney-MGM Studios this time. We made it as far along in the queue as where the droids are constructing things before he decided he wasn't in the mood to ride it, so we didn't force him and none of us rode. Instead, when the doors to our star speeder opened, we just kept walking all the way through it and exited out the other side. It turned out what Michael did want to do was to go shopping again in Tattooine Traders, where he spend $30 (plus tax) of his own money to buy a Star Wars starfighter toy. Since it was early in the day and we didn't feel like lugging it all around the park, we opted to have it delivered to Fort Wilderness where we picked it up the next day, Sunday.

Lunch

We missed our 11:30 am PS for the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant because of again trying to get Michael picked for the Jedi Training Academy, but once again, he wasn't one of the lucky ones. Instead, in between try-outs for the Jedi Training Academy we had lunch at 1:04 pm at the Backlot Express, where we all shared a turkey sandwich with carrots, a cheeseburger with carrots, and 2 bottles of water between the three of us. This works out well for us because Michael doesn't eat enough to get his own adult-sized meal and Carol & I don't need all the calories of eating an entire adult-sized meal. So sharing among us is great! Lunch cost $17.86. Later in the day we had dessert: we bought 3 kinds of Disney ice cream from an outdoor vending cart at the plaza in front of the Big A-- Hat (huge Sorcerer Mickey hat landmark) near the intersections of Hollywood & Vine & Sunset.

After trying out for the Jedi show one more time and not getting picked, we all decided to take a break from Star Wars and the heat. It was Michael's good idea to head back to Fort Wilderness and go swimming. So after driving back to our cabin and changing, all of us walked over to the nearby pool after spraying ourselves to ward off mosquitos. I kept my shoes and socks on for the short hike because it would have been too far in my flip-flops. When we got to the pool, Michael remembered that all of us had forgotten to bring his big floating "noodle" out of the cabin, so I volunteered to retrieve it.

When I got back, I took off my shoes and socks and joined Carol and Michael in the pool. Even though it lacks the man-made theming of the other Deluxe and Home Away From Home Resorts at WDW, the pool was very relaxing with its own natural theming, there amid the pine trees. The pool itself, while it doesn't have a slide or diving board, is huge and very warm -- almost like a giant hot tub!
:cool:

Michael wanted a lifejacket, so I walked around the pool to see if there was a lifeguard (there wasn't) who I could ask. One of the Guests advised me to use the house phone near the pool to ask Guest Services, so I did. While on the phone with them I got bitten on my foot. Ouch!
:grimace:

Note to self: When spraying for mosquitos at Fort Wilderness before going to the pool, next time take off the shoes and socks first. My feet and ankles were the only part of me that I didn't spray with mosquito repellant, and it didn't take them long to find that "tender part" as the hound dogs say in "The Aristocats."
:tsk:

On our way back to the cabin, we popped in the laundry building and gave it the once-over. It sure felt nice and cool in there after being out in the hot sun.
:coolgrin:

I checked out the prices on the washers and dryers: 8 quarters in each per load. We had come prepared with rolls of quarters for this task as well as laundry detergent from home, so I was all set for when I'd do the laundry on Monday night.

Other Star Wars Events

After drying off and changing back into clean clothes, we returned to the Disney-MGM Studios. Even though Michael still didn't get picked to train to be a Jedi that day, we did have fun at the other Star Wars events that weekend. We met many Star Wars Characters and had our photo taken with each of them -- even R2D2! We enjoyed the corny jokes of the Hyperspace Hoopla, presented at the same Main Event Stage next to Star Tours that is also where the Jedi Training Academy events were held.

Great Movie Ride: Star Wars exhibit here, too!

We also enjoyed seeing the chess table prop used in Star Wars while inside on line at the Great Movie Ride. The first time we got in line for that attraction it felt kind of hot inside the place and it didn't help matters that the line was moving very slowly. We never did make it farther than the chess table on exhibit that time, because it was announced that the attraction had broken down (or maybe it was because the air conditioning had broken down?) and we all had to leave. When we came back later it was literally cool to breeze through the line (puns intended) and go on the ride.

Plans for the last day of Star Wars Weekend

Since we knew we'd be coming back for more the next morning, we made plans to not only try out for the Jedi Training Academy again but to see the Star Wars parade and get into the ABC Theater for "Behind the Force," a screening of the behind-the-scenes movie about the making of Star Wars, both of which were great.

Supper at Trail's End

On Saturday night we arrived back at Fort Wilderness too late for that night's campfire movie ("Tarzan") and we were too tired to cook our own meal. So we took the bus to Trail's End buffeteria for a late supper.

The CM at the entrance to Trail's End said it would be about a ten minute wait for a table. All the seats near the podium were already filled with other Guests waiting to get a table, so I asked if we could wait outside on the porch's rocking chairs and they said that would be fine, they'd come out and announce when the table was ready.

It felt great to relax in the rocking chairs on the Crockett's Tavern porch. I even cat-napped! Well, even though we had been told that we could wait out there for our table and that they'd find us to tell us when it was ready, they never did. Turns out we waited an extra 20 minutes there on the porch after our table was ready. Although it was pleasant, we were tired and hungry! Carol got up to go ask about our table and they apologized to her for not finding us. When we finally were seated at our table Gary W., our CM waitperson, saw how weary, tired and cranky we were. We told him not only about the mix-up which caused us to be waiting for our table for so long, but also about our bad luck in not getting Michael picked at Star Wars in all the heat two days in a row, even though he had tried his best many times and Carol and I had done whatever we could to help get him noticed. So Gary put Michael "in charge of our table" (which brightened him up) and told us he'd have a special treat for him as well as another one for Carol and me at the end of the meal.

And Gary sat down next to Michael and gave him advice on getting picked the next day as well as one of his special good luck wishes.

Gary told us that his good luck wishes always work, so we hoped they would help Michael get picked on the last day of Star Wars Weekend the next day. Gary's tips included:
  • wear a colorful shirt
  • jump up and down like you're trying to get your teacher's attention because have to go to the bathroom
  • do your best to get the Jedi Master's attention, including make eye contact
What were the special treats Gary had for us at the end of our meal? He brought us two complimentary desserts: a delicious chocolate brownie for Michael (I know because Michael insisted Carol and I taste it, too) and a large serving of strawberry shortcake for Carol and me! The strawberry shortcake looked and tasted just as great as the ones we've had at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue many times before. Hmmmm... two eating places, one kitchen... you do the math!

We thanked Gary for his tips and good wishes then left in a much better mood, hoping it would all work out for Michael. We paid $43.11 for the food and drinks and left Gary a very good tip for cheering us up and his great advice.

It was 10:23 pm when we walked outside, still tired but with much brighter spirits. We got back to our cabin and into bed as quick as we could because we wanted to go to early Mass the next morning.

Sunday morning, 6/15/03

After Mickey woke us up with a phone call the next morning, we had a quick breakfast and got dressed, then drove to Sunday Mass. Once again, the weather today was very hot and sunny. At Mary Queen of the Universe Shrine we prayed for other people, prayed for various things, and we also prayed for it to happen if it was God's will that Michael get picked at Star Wars Weekend that day. After some free donuts (for all of us) and some more coffee (for Carol and me) in their fellowship hall, we left a donation and did some quick shopping in their gift shop: a Joshua "Veggie-Tales" DVD and a shrine magnet (total: $23.94).

D-MGM: Take our backpack, please!

After church we drove straight to D-MGM to try out for the Jedi Training Academy again. When it was time to pick another group of kids for the Jedi show, Michael wasn't lucky enough to be one of them yet again. In between shows we got pictures and autographs with Star Wars Characters at the various meet and greet locations. It was so hot and sunny that I bought us a water mist fan ($17). Michael also bought one more Star Wars toy: a red light saber ($10.65) so he and I could have "good side of the Force" vs. "dark side of the Force" battles. While waiting for the next Jedi show to begin, we discovered that we no longer had our backpack!
:o

Carol stayed with Michael while I retraced our steps, thinking we must have left it at one of the meet and greet places, setting it down when all 3 of us got into a picture. Well, nobody had seen it and I couldn't find it anywhere. I returned to Carol and Michael to tell them the bad news. We all said a prayer that it be found, and I stayed with Michael while Carol went to Guest Services at the entrance to the park to ask if it had been brought there. It takes a long time to walk from Star Tours all the way back to the the entrance and before Carol returned the morning Star Wars parade was announced and came right by where we were standing. We were at the Main Event Stage next to Star Tours, right near where the parade goes behind a large gate to backstage.

It turns out that Carol was able to see the parade when it was at the other end of the park and she joined us when it was over, backpack in hand! It had been picked up at one of the meet and greet locations, as we had thought, and brought to Guest Services near the stroller rental "gas station" at the entrance. We were all very thankful to get it back!

Who here wants to become a Jedi Knight?

With the parade over, the music started for another Jedi Training Academy show. I reminded Michael to try and do what Gary had suggested, including jumping up and down like he had to go to the bathroom. Michael told me, "I do have to go to the bathroom!" I asked him if he could hold it for a while, since they were about to pick more kids in just a minute and he thought he could.

Well, Michael followed all of Gary's advice and that time he finally got picked! It was such a relief that he finally got picked -- and we all enjoyed when he was having his turn up on stage very much. Maybe it was a sign of good things to come when we were directed to park at row 44 of the Mickey - Stage area that morning in the D-MGM parking lot!
:wwww:

The Force is strong with many of you!

How many times did it take before Michael got picked? Well, when we first got to D-MGM on Friday afternoon there were two Jedi Training Academy shows left that day which Michael tried to be picked for, and then two other days that weekend had 9 shows each day. We forget how many of all of those Michael tried out for, but it was probably around 8. In the heat. In the sun. Thanks to Gary's advice, Michael's perseverance, and lots of prayers it turned out to be well worth it.

Besides the great experience of learning how to become a Jedi Knight Apprentice and battling Darth Vader in a light saber duel, Michael also was presented with a certificate and a bag containing a prize: Star Wars trading cards! We've played many a game with those cards, each time remembering what it took to earn them and the great fun it was when it finally happened.
:)

Michael says learning from the Jedi Master and fighting Darth Vader with a light saber was pretty easy. He enjoyed it very much and we were very pleased to be cheering Michael on. It certainly was one of the highlights of our trip.
:nod:

For more about Star Wars Weekends at WDW, see the "Star Wars Weekends at Disney-MGM Studios" article by Mary Albright in the July 3, 2003 edition of PassPorter News on Passporter.com. Also see the report about Star Wars Weekends on AllEarsNet.

Best Burgers in WDW!

We were ready to eat lunch and so we left the Disney-MGM Studios and headed back to our cabin for a celebratory meal of grilled hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and baked beans. Those were the best cheeseburgers in all of Disney World!
:9

After lunch, we drove in our Minnie-van to the Bike Barn to add air to the tires of Michael's bike and get him a life vest. The life vest is free for the length of your stay when you're a Fort Wilderness Resort Guest. At 5 pm we were shopping for more groceries at the Winn Dixie Marketplace I had driven past the other night when it was closed. It was 5:40 pm when we paid for our groceries and it was starting to rain, so we put everything into the Minnie-Van quickly and returned to Fort Wilderness and put it all away inside our cabin. We were hurrying because we had Priority Seating for 6 o'clock at Whispering Canyon Cafe for supper!

Our favorite eating places this trip:

Besides enjoying the meals we prepared in the Fort Wilderness cabin, we also enjoyed eating out at Walt Disney World. We ate at Whispering Canyon Cafe, we enjoyed a Character meal at Chef Mickey's as we always do, we enjoyed the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue again, and we tried a Character meal at Cinderella's Royal Table Dinner in the Grand Floridian which was very nice. Cindy is apparently better in the kitchen than Mickey because we felt the food she made available at her buffet was better than Mickey's, plus after dinner Michael said the GF had the best pizza in all of Walt Disney World. I was glad to see Big Bertha and hear her operating again, although I noticed that the huge mechanized pipe organ didn't seem to have any moving parts (such as hitting the drums, for instance) so I wondered if what I was hearing was a recording from Big Bertha's earlier days.

Whispering Canyon Cafe: Sunday night, 6/15/03, Father's Day Dinner for Rich

It's a kookoo nutty kind of a place, but Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge Resort serves great food and it is raucous, fun and rowdy in there! There were no Disney Characters -- just a wait staff trained to be fun-loving and engage the restaurant every few minutes in antics: the children in antics, the adults in antics singly and in groups and en masse.

Whispering Canyon Cafe is not for the humor challenged and is not for those who have a tough time seeing the humor in oneself. It is also not for those who don't want to get picked/asked to do something in front of others. It's also not sedate or quiet or well-mannered -- that's part of it's charm.

My Little Buttercup for Father's Day!

Before being seated, all the men in the place were told to gather together in the dining hall. That day was Father's Day and I figured they were going to do something special to honor the Dads in the restaurant ( Wrong! ) so I walked over and joined the other male diners standing there. We were instructed to form one line and that we'd be doing something special for all the women who were there that day. There were so many men that the line stretched from one end of the place to the other. Carol got out our camcorder and recorded all the action as all of us men were instructed on how to sing "My Little Buttercup" -- complete with dance steps and gestures! I guess we all did pretty good, because everyone gave us a lot of applause when we were done.
:wink2:

When that was over we were brought to our table. Our CM waitperson told us his name was Charlie Horse, and he was a lot of fun.
:)

Mmmmm, mmmmm!

Carol and I loved the food there. We ordered a salad and split it and also had "Jeffro's pork chops" and the skillet dinner. Carol enjoyed a margarita and I thought my vanilla milkshake was so yummy that I got a refill on it. Michael was bummed out at first because they didn't serve cheese pizza, but he ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with fries instead. After he got a taste of my milkshake he wanted one, too: his was a cookies and cream milkshake. His mood improved soon enough and he liked the place and what went on there. Michael was involved in two different pony races, using wooden horses, and they had the kids shouting so much he got a little hoarse himself!
:)

Michael and I found the "secret way" to the restrooms and those are just as well-themed as the rest of the resort is, including the music they play in there.

Shenanigans a-plenty!

The food's good and there's plenty of it. Folks into the humor of the place will enjoy it a lot. If you are missing a condiment (such as ketchup), or a particular color crayon for coloring at your table just ask your wait person and your fellow diners will....well, that would be telling!  
;)  

I'm also not going to tell you everything about what happened at the table next to us when the man insisted on drinking Pepsi instead of Coke. I will let you in on this much: his female companion's face turned bright red when he was brought a bucket full of that "P-word" stuff!
LOL

The total with tax came to $66.24 and it was well worth it. I think Charlie Horse was pleased with his tip, too.

Another bag lost!

After dinner we started out into the lobby to do some exploring, and I reached to get out my camcorder to take pictures of the babbling brook that starts in the lobby before heading outside to the waterfall and pool.

Oh, no! Where's my camera bag? We had just lost our backpack earlier that day and now the camera was lost. I told Carol and Michael to keep looking around the lobby while I went back to the restaurant. I asked Charlie Horse if he had seen my camera bag and he said he hadn't, but let me look under out table where I had placed it. When it didn't turn up there we went to the restaurant's front desk and asked there. That's where it was! The CM who cleared the table saw it and brought it there right away. Whew!
:clap:

Luckily, none of us misplaced anything on the rest of the trip. Strange that we almost lost two things on Sunday the 15th rather than on Friday the 13th! Then again, if we had lost those things on Friday the 13th, maybe we wouldn't have found them again...
:ghostface:

With camcorder and camera bag retrieved, I took pictures of us in the lobby and then we window shopped in the Wilderness Lodge gift shop. We enjoyed the many wilderness-themed things they have in there, including frontier rifles and guns, Davy Crockett coonskin caps, pretend gems, and Lincoln logs sold in sets in which you can create your own small version of the Wilderness Lodge!
:coonskin:

Another campfire movie missed

Michael wasn't interested in that night's Fort Wilderness campfire movie, "The Little Mermaid," so we passed on the chance to experience that and headed back to bed in our cabin.
:sleepy:

Another wonderful day at Walt Disney World had come to an end. We all were happy and ready for more magical fun at the Magic Kingdom in the morning.

Next... Monday, 6/16/03: We finally make it to the Magic Kingdom!


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RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator
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Liv2CdWorld Offline

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Posts: 371
Joined: April 2003
Posted: Sep. 29, 2003 9:58 am/pm Quote

:clap:  Yet another great report! :clap:

WOW, so much to comment on.  I'm glad that Michael got to be a Jedi in training.  Would love to see some pictures!

Trails End sounds like a great place to eat!  We'll have to check it out in December!

Too bad you missed your Sci-Fi PS's, that's one of our favorite places to eat too (we have MANY favorite places to eat :) )

Whispering Canyon Cafe is a blast!!  We love to eat there! 2 trips ago, we had Charlie Horse as our Waitperson too!  And the Wilderness Lodge, I can't say enough good things about!  I love it there (probably why we stayed there every year for the past 4 trips :) )

Thanks for sharing!

Oh, and I'm glad both of your bags found their way back to you LOL


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Posted: Sep. 29, 2003 10:28 am/pm Quote

Thanks for the kind words, Beth! And it wasn't so bad missing our Sci-Fi PS time... we did eat there during our April trip, after all.
:9


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