Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Sep. 29, 2003 6:12 am/pm
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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."
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.
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:
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!
- 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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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...
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!
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.
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!
RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator