Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Oct. 01, 2003 8:26 am/pm
Day Six -- Wednesday, 6/18/03: Epcot
We were up early, ate breakfast quickly, and arrived at Epcot in time for the Extra Magic Hour.
As soon as we passed through a long line at security, we used our Annual Passes and entered the turnstyles. Then we made a bee-line to Test Track. Apparently other Guests got in even earlier than us or ran there, because there already was a long line of people waiting to ride it without FastPasses. They probably got a FastPass and then got in the regular line to see it that way first, planning on going a second time with their FastPass. Anyway, we didn't want to wait in the regular line since we now had our own FastPasses, so we walked away to look at other things waiting for our FastPasses to be usable starting at noon.
As it turned out, if we had waited on the regular line right then, it would have been shorter than the long 45 minute line we had using our FastPass later!
We walked past Mission: SPACE but weren't allowed to go into the entry plaza as it wasn't in soft opening back then. Sure looks pretty, though!
All three of us went into Ellen's Energy Adventure -- for our first time. The last time Carol and I were at Universe of Energy Michael wasn't even born yet. We liked the show, but can't they do anything with the face on the Ellen animatronic? I mean, really!
We then explored Innoventions and saw a really neat robotic dog that a CM put through its paces for us. She also brought out another, newer robotic dog and showed us that one, too. Just the thing for kids allergic to pet fur!
We played a bit with the Disney Software videogames, but most of them didn't really interest us so we moved on after a few minutes.
We were very interested in the preview area in Innoventions about Mission: SPACE and we took a lot of the computerized quizzes there.
Michael and I also participated in the ToonTown demo. Michael got to be Mickey Mouse and I chose Donald Duck so I could be next to him. I wound up being the winner, but I was playing against 3 kids.
You think I wasn't going to give it my all? No way! I was out to have fun, too!
Carol found where you can send email messages so she did that. I'll have to go back there on our next trip and use that, too!
Test Track, where the Fast Passes go even faster than the cars!
When it was time to use our Test Track Fast Passes, we were shocked to see long lines there -- even for those with a Fast Pass! The Fast Pass wait time for Test Track was listed as 60+ minutes, but actually it took us 45 minutes from entering the line to walking off the ride (for entry Noon to 1 pm). So those wait times, take with a grain of salt.
This is one attraction where the term Fast Pass is a misnomer. Waiting 45 minutes in line with a Fast pass is ridiculous.
For the same attraction the standby line was 3 hours and the single rider wait time was 90 minutes. It is good advice to tet to Test Track ASAP as soon as the gates open because the Fast Passes for it go quick! By mid-morning all of them were taken.
We all rode Test Track for the first time and liked it. Michael said it wasn't as scary as he thought it would be, although he did close his eyes for most of it.
To me, the ride is okay -- but I can't see spending that kind of money on a ride which isn't an E-ticket ride in my opinion. The attraction doesn't have "heart" like the attractions of old had, so it leaves me kind of cold. I wouldn't feel like I have to ride it again next time: been there, done that.
Here comes the rain again...
Exactly as we were about to exit the post-show area of Test Track, it started coming down in buckets! Good thing we weren't on the track at the time of the downpour -- or still in line and then have them shut down the ride for the day.
We put on our ponchos and used our umbrellas, is was raining so hard.
Good news: Figment is back.
Bad news: The original version of this attraction with Figment and Dreamfinder was much, much, MUCH better. At least Figment is back... there: I said something nice about the ride. The interactive after-show area was much better in the original version vs. how it is today, too. I was very disappointed to find out that the second floor is going to waste now. You don't even get a chance to look at the cool glass roof from inside anymore.
One thing about the ever-present souvenir shop attached to the end of the after-show area of the Epcot Imagination attraction: Not necessarily to buy it, but check out the new way to do "portraits" that you can have done there. It's cool! You have a 3D sculpture of sorts engraved in a block of plexiglass (or some sort of plastic) with your choice of Disney logos or Characters put within it. It is about the size of a very small sculpture or paperweight or figurine or computer desk buddy object. You can have an image of just yourself, or entire group/family, or couples....whoever wants to be in it with you. That's a refreshing change to the 5x7/8x10 photo portraits now being done seemingly everywhere on the property. We didn't buy one, but these things are very cool-looking.
We also created our own goofy-looking picture at the KODAK Incredible Picture Lab. The link to it has expired now, but no big loss.
We saw Honey, I Shrunk the Audience -- first time for Michael. He liked it and Carol and I still like it, too. The new pre-show was nice, but I still love that "Makin' Memories" song.
Lunch at The Land
Those were the highlights of our trip to Epcot. When we returned to Fort Wilderness it was still raining hard so we couldn't go to the pool today. And the rain also wiped out the movie at the campfire that night. Michael and I went to pick up our Splash Mountain photo from the day before, taking our van and parking in the 15 minute parking area, which gave him a few minutes to play with the wide selection of wilderness-style toy guns they have at the Meadow trading post. Then we walked to the campfire area so he'd at least see what it looks like where they show the movies when it isn't raining.
I'll add more about this day next week, but those are the high points.
Thursday, 6/19/03: Disney's Animal Kingdom
We spent the day in the rain at Disney's Animal Kingdom. There were virtually no lines at the Kali River Rapids and we didn't mind getting wet on that attraction because we already were wet from the rain! Since we already had on our ponchos, nothing really bothered us while on that ride.
It was all of our first times on it - - and we all liked it so much an the lines were so short that when we got off we walked back to the entrance and rode it again! It was fun to operate the remote controls and have the elephant statues squirt the other Guests riding through it, too.
We shared a meal in Tusker House. I had meant to try the other food item they have that, but ordered the rotisserie chicken out of force of habit. It still is the best rotisserie chicken that I've ever had anywhere.
I'll post more details about what we did at Disney's Animal Kingdom another day, but that were the most memorable things.
Thursday night, 6/19/03: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
Thursday night we went to the second show of the evening at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. They seated us on the "shelf," which is what they call the balcony. We were on the right side as you face the stage, not quite against the proscenium arch but one table away from it. It was a pretty good view for being up there on the balcony.
The earlier you make your reservations for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue as well as the Spirit of Aloha luau show -- up to two years in advance -- the better the seats you'll get in most cases. They are assigned when your reservation is made and not when you pick up your tickets nor arrive at the show check-in podium. One exception to this would be if you decide to see one of those shows at the last minute and you are lucky enough to get someone's seat assignment that cancelled. So reserve as soon as you know when your WDW vacation will be in order to have a better chance at getting a great seat.
We made our reservations only about a month ahead of time, so that's the best we could get: up on the balcony off to the side.
Friday, 6/20/03 - Our last full day at WDW
The day began with a lot of rain again, but we had a few hours of "Walt Weather" when it stopped that afternoon!
Boma for breakfast
On our last full day at WDW, Friday, June 20th, it was raining very heavily. We started the day at Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. That's where we had supper on our previous trip and breakfast this time. Boma is a buffet with a lot of family breakfast fare along with some interpretations of African food. There are no Disney characters here. We ate with Bruce (Rufus) & Marta Metcalf -- who are always a pleasure to be with -- and our special guest, Ron Schneider, who was the original Dreamfinder/Figment walkaround character at Epcot's Imagination pavillion as well as the voice of Dreamfinder in parts of that attraction's first version of the ride.
I'll post more details later about what a pleasure is was to meet Ron and talk with him in person (I previously had chatted with him online at EMuck.com many years ago). I'll also provide a picture, too.
When Michael had enough to eat and got bored with us adults talking he made friends with a boy sitting at the next table. That boy had brought his Game Boy with two Star Wars games on it, based on episodes 5 and 6. Michael also borrowed my camcorder then shot his own video of what Boma is like and some of the food they offer at breakfast.
After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Ron, Marta & Bruce then went shopping at Downtown Disney marketplace one last time and explored some of the shops there. The rain came down in buckets while we were in the World of Disney store.
A rainy trip to the Magic Kingdom
After shopping we went back to the cabin and said, "Even though it is raining, we want to do the parks -- so, let's do it!"
We took the boat from the Fort Wilderness Marina and as soon as the boat pulled up to the Magic Kingom dock the rain stopped. We had "Walt weather" for about 4 hours that afternoon and it was a welcome break from all the heavy rain. What a perfect way to end our last hours there!
I didn't bring Pal Mickey or my camera that afternoon, though, because it was still coming down so hard when we were back at the cabin. But it turned out that we could have brought both of them without them getting wet.
We were able to get Fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and we also got el primo, wonderful seats at Town Square in front of the little park where the flagpole is, looking right down the middle of Main Street U.S.A. to see the 3 pm parade which ran late due to the earlier rain. So it was more like the 3:30 parade.
It was our first time getting to see the Share A Dream Come True parade and it is wonderful.
Surviving the weather:
Take it easy and mello, and the magic falls into place all by itself! The worst thing is how our Southern heat and humidity can drain one's energy. Pray for rain, because it is glorious and much more comfortable than the typical summertime sunny Florida weather -- ugh!
On our last afternoon we literally had 3 1/2 hours of Walt weather between summer thunderstorm downpours, some of which made national news in their severity while we were there. But between rains it was wonderful! We saw the new MK parade from Town Square, rides were walk-ons (15-20 minute waits and under), and it was so less crowded that it was humane to be there. Pray for rain! Rain is your friend at WDW theme parks!
Rich's "first haircut" ...or... "Songs and a haircut, no wait!"
Another highlight of the day besides the break in the weather was that I finally got what I've always wanted to do at the Magic Kingdom: get my hair cut at the Harmony Barbershop. When the parade was over we walked to the other side of Town Square to see some of the parade again before it headed backstage. Then Carol said, "Hey! Let's go to the barbershop and see what the lines are like." So we went in and there wasn't anyone sitting in one of the barber chairs, where Michal the barber was waiting for a customer! The woman barber was cutting someone's hair in the other chair but there was no waiting for Michael. I saw a family in the barbershop waiting for their child's haircut to be finished, so I aasked "Is nobody waiting for a haircut?" They said no, so I sat down for a haircut right after walking into the shop.
While I was sitting there with Michal giving me a great haircut, in walked all four members of the Dapper Dans. They're the barbershop quartet that performs along Main Street U.S.A. They sang a few songs for all of us -- even took a request from me and sang "Minnie's Yoo Hoo."
One cute thing the barbers do when you get a haircut (if you want) is to sprinkle your hair with pixie dust -- which looks like multi-color glitter. I decided to get that put on my hair and got so much I shook my head over Carol and Michael to share it with them, too.
The cost was $15 (for an adult cut), plus tip.
Now it's time to say goodbye..."
The Magic Kingdom closed at 7 pm for an E-Ticket night so after doing a few more attractions we had to leave. As we were heading back, waiting under the canopy at the dock for the boat back to Fort Wilderness, it started raining again -- then raining harder -- then getting very windy and even more rain. After a very long wait, a boat came and docked -- but after all of the passengers were let off the boat none of us were allowed to board it because there was a problem with the boat's oil pressure. So we waited in line while they were fixing that right there at the dock. The CMs told us they sent out word for more boats to come. Just before the second boat docked, the problem had been fixed on the original boat and we all were allowed to board. We were happy to get a dry seat inside the boat.
Wrapping up the report
What special things we did on this trip:
- Staying in a cabin at Fort Wilderness Resort and campground
- Star Wars Weekend
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
- Pal Mickey
- Chef Mickey's
- Whispering Canyon Cafe on Father's Day
- Cinderella's Royal Feast at the Grand Floridian
- Rich and Michael seeing the Titanic exhibit on International Drive while Carol had time on her own at the Magic Kingdom
- Boma breakfast with Ron Schneider and Bruce & Marta Metcalf
- a haircut for Rich at the Harmony Barbor Shop
What we'd do again, and why:
- Whispering Canyon Cafe for the fun, rowdy, and delicious meals
- Staying at Fort Wilderness in a cabin: full kitchen, roomy home-like ambiance
What we'd never do again, and why:
- Michael being at the age where he's starting to grow out of liking Character meet and greets. Hopefully he'll eventually see that older kids and adults have fun doing this and he won't think he's too old for it.
- Don't wait until just a few weeks before your trip to make a reservation for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue because you'll probably be seated up in the balcony which we don't think is as much fun as being on the main floor.
- Rich will never try to buy wine and/or beer at a supermarket again after 2 am, because there's no way they'll sell it to you!
What we want to do on one of our next trips to WDW that we haven't all done or seen together:Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween PartyTyphoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach: None of us have ever been to Blizzard Beach and Michael wasn't born yet when Carol & Rich last did Typhoon LagoonMiniature golf at Disney's Winter/SummerlandDisneyQuestMore time to explore Epcot's World ShowcaseEpcot's Living SeasD-MGM's Backstage TourWishes fireworks at the Magic KingdomMickey's PhilharMagicMission: SPACEa land/sea vacation at WDW and on the Disney Cruise Lineother Character meals that we haven't done yetSpend more time over at the Kennedy Space Center
What tips we have for fellow vacationing Disney EchoEars:
- Don't overpack or over-plan: There's more to do than you think and time can easily get away from you resulting in you not being able to do all the resort things you'd like to do (We wanted to do more at Fort Wilderness Resort than we wound up doing, but the rainy weather in the second half of our vacation prevented some of that.)
- In hot months pack extra clothes and underwear -- or be prepared to do laundry often: Taking a shower in the middle of each day helps you freshen up and get relief from the hot, sticky weather -- but then you need to put on clean clothes.
- Bring baby powder/Shower-to-Shower powder to sprinkle on yourself after bathing: It really helps keep you cooler in hot weather
- Also bring "sweat rags" (washcloths) from your resort room with you to freshen up while on the go in the parks (but remember to leave them in the room before you pack up and go home! )
- Bring less cash: Instead, charge more to the room or a credit card/debit card.
- Beware of age-appropriate negativism in your children! Our DS at 7 1/2 could be moody and a picky eater.
- Michael didn't like any of the pizzas at WDW until he ate at Cinderella's Royal Feast at the Grand Floridian, where he loved the pizza!
- If you are on a low-salt diet, beware of the fried chicken at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue: Sure it is tasty, moist and tender -- but it is very salty, in both the meat and the skin
I'll add more to this trip report next week . . . but for now I must stop because I'll be arriving at WDW in about 10 hours on our next trip! This time we'llbe staying at the Polynesian Resort again, hopefully in Fiji facing the marina from the 3rd floor. The plane lands at 9:30 in the morning and I'll zip from the airport to WDW as fast as I can. Seeya real soon, EchoEars!
RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator