April 23rd, oh yeah it's gonna be ON!
These guys were just hanging out at the International Gateway at Epcot.
Mulan says they love to have their pictures taken with their tall friends.
I have never had my picture taken with either of these characters.
After Jerrame and Nicole's kids had their pictures taken, I had my turn.
Eeyore was checking out my jacket that has him on it.
Sunday, January 28th – Did that guy not check the weather before leaving his room?
I had no set plans for the day. I was trying to decide between MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom. While getting ready for the day, I received a call from Jerrame. They had made it safely to the airport, but I got a run down of the blur of activity from the night before. Let’s just say that the kids learned their way around The Animal Kingdom Lodge the hard way! But all was good and they were on their way home, tired, but happy.
I also received a call from Melissa, who was following up on the messages I had left her from the day before. She convinced me that I should go to the Animal Kingdom. So, as soon as I was done straightening my hair, off I went to the bus stop.
I stopped in the food court and grabbed a banana and an orange juice. I had my jacket tied around my waist and a long sleeved shirt on. The bus took awhile to get there, but the group of about 15 people and I were soon off to the Animal Kingdom.
Once at DAK, went inside, grabbed a times sheet and headed towards Asia via DinoLand. The first show for Finding Nemo wasn’t for a couple of hours, so I planned to ride Everest a couple of times and then head over and get into line.
On my walk over, I got a call from Carolyn. We chatted for a few minutes while I paused outside the theatre for Nemo. I was asked for directions and the times for the show a couple of times. Nope, I was not wearing a Disney uniform, nor a badge! But I was happy to help none the less. While I was stopped, I also put my jacket on, it was really pretty cold this morning.
I went over to Everest and grabbed a fast pass for 10:30, I figured I would ride it once at that time, and still have time to get in line for the first Nemo show (what was I thinking?). While getting my FP, I spoke to the CM there, as she was about as bundled up as you can get. This guy walks up to get FP’s for his family and he is wearing shorts, a tank top and mandals….did he not check the weather before he left his room?!
I walk over to go ahead and get into the regular line, but I notice they had just opened the single riders line for the day, so I went into that line and walked straight to the front and paused for maybe 30 seconds when they put me on the ride. The woman I sat with was so scared, and she warned me that she was a screamer!!!
We had a great ride. Going that fast made it even colder, but more of a thrill! Walked through the exit and the store and got right back on through the single riders line. The CM there said “Hi again” as I walked through. Again, right onto the ride, I was wondering if no one knew about the single rider’s line at all? Another great ride, but sitting in the middle of the train both times. Again, walked through the store and right back into the single rider’s line. This time there were about 6 other people in line, so I had to wait about 5-7 minutes before getting on again. But it was a great ride, this time with a kid – his dad and sister were in the seats in front of us. I pointed out to him that when you reached the top of the hill, you could see almost all of Walt Disney World – he though that was pretty darn cool.
I thought 3 rides was enough for me this morning. I did not use my FP at all. Instead, I wandered over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek to visit the tigers. I walked past the bats and everything. The Tigers were out sunning themselves and I got some great pictures. I then started the trek back over to Finding Nemo, the Musical. I walked past the theatre to find the end of the line and I kept walking and walking and walking. I passed the entrance to DinoLand USA and kept walking. This was not a good sign. I decided that I was not going to make it in to see the first show of Nemo.
I walked down to the river location to meet with Pooh and friends. There wasn’t a long line and I got my picture taken with Pooh. I showed Eeyore my jacket, that had him on it and he was so excited. I also had my picture with Tigger and each CM was nice enough to take a picture with my camera as well.
After the photo stops, I decided I would get some lunch. Since I decided before this trip that I would try some new places, I went to Flame Tree Barbeque for lunch. I had a ½ smoked chicken with corn, baked beans and a water. I was able to use my dining experience card here and saved $2!!! I grabbed a seat by the river with a good view of everest and ate my lunch.
After lunch I went to get in line for the next Nemo show. Man, the line was nearly as long as it was earlier. I was afraid I was not going to make it into the show. However, since I was a single person, I thought that I would fit in anywhere, at the end of a row or whatever. And I did, and they sent me all the way down to the front to fill in the end of a row. Unfortunately, the seat was all the way over on the side. I think you really do miss some of the show because of that. Some things in the middle and even the side of the stage were hard to see.
Lots of people like this show and I think they did a good job turning it into a musical. I just didn’t like it that much. Just my opinion here, but the people interaction just threw me off a bit. I mean, I am ok with seeing the puppet “masters”, but why do they have to talk to each other and make faces like actors. I think half the time I didn’t know if I should look at them or the puppet. Very distracting.
After the show, I decided that I was just about done with everything I wanted to do at The Animal Kingdom on this trip. I walked towards the front, and took in a band that was playing by the Flame Tree, they were pretty interesting.
I left the park and decided I would go to downtown Disney for a little while to shop. I thought about my transportation options, and took a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter. I took this opportunity to check out this resort – it is really cute. I then took the boat to Downtown Disney and did some shopping in the World of Disney.
I bought pretty much all the souvenirs I was going to buy here, since I get an Annual Pass discount, but it ended up, my Disney Visa got me a better discount – well, according to the CM who rung me up. I also used my Disney Visa Rewards here. One of the things I got was a pirate skull and I was able to fill it up with pirate “booty”. This is going to the nephews in Wisconsin. Dad is upset that I didn’t get him the same thing – he got a Pirates t-shirt.
I did not find the personal calendar that I was trying to find. So, I left the World of Disney and walked over to Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories and found an agenda book that would work. The girl there asked if I wanted to have my bags shipped back to my resort. Now, why didn’t I think of that at the World of Disney?! It didn’t matter, I was going there anyways, so I just took my bag and walked to the bus stops.
Back in my room, I dropped off my purchases and rested my feet for a few minutes. Then I headed out to the Magic Kingdom, it was extra magic hours there that night. I got there in time to see people lining up to see SpectroMagic. I got my EMH wristband at the front of the park and then got on the train. I took the train back to Toontown.
While in ToonTown, I decided to visit the Judges tent and had my picture taken with Mickey Mouse. Man, it was cold out tonight, and I was really wishing I had my gloves in my backpack, but I didn’t. I then went over to the big store where you can have the character meet and greets. I do not remember what this is called. Well, the wait times for each of the lines were 20-40 minutes each, with the princesses being the 40 minutes. I wanted to go in that line, but really did not want to wait for that long. Instead I went into Minnie and friends and stood in line for less than 10 minutes. I had my picture with Minnie, Pluto and Goofy!
I don’t really remember where I went after this, but I was starting to get hungry. I ended up at Cosmic Ray’s. The girls from DWT introduced me to the fixin’s bar last February when we were here. Unfortunately, the cheese sauce is no longer on the fixin’s bar!! But I enjoyed my cheeseburger and fries while taking in the comedy and song selections of Sonny Eclipse. Oh, they also do not take the dining experience card here.
I walked around to Tomorrowland and took a quick ride around on the TTA.
I then walked straight onto Buzz Lightyear and had a good time fighting the aliens.
When I walked out, Wishes was ending, so I caught the tail end of the fireworks and headed against the crowd towards the hub and then Adventureland. Jungle Cruise was not open for EMH, but Pirates was. I actually had to stand in line for a good 10 minutes for this ride. I got a seat in the back of the boat and the front was kinda heavy loaded with people. When we went down the drop, the front row got drenched!
After my jaunt with the pirates, I walked over to Aloha Aisle and purchased my dole whip float. I don’t care how cold it was, this was so yummy. I ate as I walked over to Liberty Square where I took a seat near the Liberty Bell and enjoyed my pineapple heaven!!
While sitting here, I was asked question after question. I directed people to It’s a Small World and the shortest route to get to Space Mountain. It was kinda funny, cause I didn’t look like a CM!!!
After enjoying my treat, while shivering, I headed over to the Haunted Mansion. The last time I was here with my family, the CM loading everyone scared me and my niece by sticking her head around the corner of our doom buggy and wishing is a nice haunt…
This ride was nice, no stopping in the séance room, where I usually get stuck.
Heading into Fantasyland, I was feeling a little tired. I wanted to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, so I headed in there, taking pictures of the movie posters along the way. I had a great seat and enjoyed all the wonderful Disney songs.
It was time to head back to the resort, even though there was a little over an hour left in the EMH that night. I stopped in the Emporium to check on a couple of things. I always get a Park Hopper Mickey from the last few years I have been. One year he had all his pin trading stuff, the next year he had stuff for the anniversary of DisneyLand. This year, I couldn’t figure out which one he was and none of the CM’s in the store were able to help me.
I went ahead and left the Magic Kingdom for the night. I had to be up early the next morning for my UnDiscovered FutureWorld Tour at Epcot.
I love it!
I can't wait to hear about this tour!
Monday, January 29 – I attempted to try something new.
Man, that alarm went off early this morning. I was just glad that I did not have to make a call to my boss on my way to Epcot. I got dressed and headed out the door. I felt like I was running a little late, so I didn’t stop in the food court for anything this morning.
I ended up arriving at Epcot way in advance of my tour time. I had my bag checked and walked to the turnstiles labeled for the Princess Breakfast. They did not have my name on the list for the tour, I think they actually had a print out of the wrong day; they let me in anyways.
I went straight to Guest Relations and checked in. I had about 30 minutes until the tour time, so I went outside to explore. I have been in the Magic Kingdom before the park opened, so this was similar, but almost in an eerie way. All those going to the princess breakfast must have walked pretty fast, there was NO ONE AROUND!! I finally passed the fountains and saw signs of life - CMs were setting up their stands for the beginning of the day.
I was able to walk all the way to the entrance of the World Showcase without passing another soul. I took pictures all around the World Showcase, pictures with no one in them. It was interesting. Oh yeah, it was also COLD!!! Man, it was freezing out today.
Walked back to Guest Relations and passed a man with an empty stroller, running as fast as he could. I think he was late to the princess breakfast, and forgot the stroller – must have sent the mom ahead with the kids.
There were many many people in the Guest Relations office, most of them were waiting for the Segway Tours. We passed them later in the day and they were having a good time.
We met our tour guide, Michael, and we were on our way, all the way out the door and sitting on the little benches outside. Michael was prepared for the cold as he had his GR uniform on with a full length coat, a huge scarf wrapped around his neck and gloves.
Our tour of about 12 people introduced ourselves and stated where we were from. Michael introduced himself and told us how he got to his position. He had been with the company for awhile. We then talked about Spaceship Earth and how there are actually 2 globes, one on the inside where you ride, and the one on the outside. He also talked about the gutter system, where you can stand under SE and not get soaked.
We then went into Innoventions East. Here we took a tour of the House of Innoventions. This was pretty interesting and I had never done this before. I think everyone on the tour loved the bathroom and the big screen tv in there!
Our next stop was the fountains. He told us a little of the history of the nations that were invited to Epcot on opening day and they all brought water from their countries to add to the fountain. He explained the water system and how they collect nearly $3 million in change each year in the fountains – and how that money is donated to children’s charities in the state of Florida.
Next up we went to this place, and I forget the name, but it is where they had the set up for the Flower and Garden Festival. We went into a little Disney history here, while looking at the pictures on the wall. Also, a chance for a potty break.
I think the order of which we did things next was we walked over to The Sea – now knows as The Sea with Nemo and Friends. We talked about the changes and we also got to visit a VIP room that was located over over The Coral Reef Restaurant. This was a nice set up with a great view into the big tank. However, don’t have an event at night here, the set up is just like a natural environment and you can’t see into the tank as it is dark. It looked like they were setting up for some sort of luncheon in there today.
Our next stop was The Land. We stopped before walking in and talked about the mosaic on the walls leading up to the land. Did you know that people actually stop in Guest Relations to complain about the hill you have to climb to get into the building? Well, the reason for this is to give you a sense of the levels of the earth. If you look at the mosaic, you see the striations (is that the right term) of the earth represented in the color of the stones. This mosaic was done by a father/ daughter team. The dad did the right on your way up, the daughter the left. The sides are EXACTLY the same except for one stone…can you find it?!
Once inside the land, we talked about how Walt wanted to represent the Land, Sea and Air here at Epcot. Well, it is obvious that the land and sea are represented, but what represents The Air? Mission Space was the answer to that question later in the day. Inside here we took another break where I grabbed a Danish and a water in SunShine Seasons Fair. We all met up under the sign for Soarin’. Yup, you guessed it, this was the ride we went on, and we got to walk through the fast pass lane!!! Hey, did you know that all of Fantasyland could fit into this building now? The ride on Soarin was great, one girl passed on the ride due to her height fear issues. We talked about the Hidden Mickeys, that Eisner was the guy playing golf, and that all those things were happening when it was filmed, no set ups except the guy hangliding – he was done in with CGI.
We went out a CM exit here and walked around some buildings until we came out near Imagination. I don’t remember what all we talked about here except that if you held your thumb and middle finger together in a circle, the jumping water could jump through it without getting your hand wet.
While walking back towards the center of FutureWorld, we had to step aside for the Segway Tour. Some of them were looking a bit warn, but they all had smiles on their faces. So, I think if you are thinking of taking this tour – you should!
Next stop, Mission Space. We went inside using the entrance to the HP VIP Lounge. Wow, this set up was nice. It seems it is available to all HP employees visiting WDW. You have to show your id as you walk in – we were all guests. They have some interesting space games, a sitting area, a drink fountain with coke products or some coffee. They also have a private room set up with a computer if you have to get online or do some work there. The view overlooks the waiting queue for Mission Space. Look up to the Moon Buggy and slightly turn left. That is where it is. Did you know that the moon buggy is on loan from the Smithsonian?
Next we left here and went in the other side using a CM entrance. They took us into the control area for the ride, where we were able to see how it all works and ask the guy there some questions. You know when you are in the queue and you see the people there on the computers looking like the space control – well, this is actually where they control the ride. It was all pretty interesting.
We left through the same CM entrance and headed over to Test Track. The ride was down and there were no cars zooming over our heads. We went into a back door where Michael showed us the car they use to help those in wheelchairs test to see if they are able to get in and out of the vehicle. When we walked outside, he also pointed out all the rubber all over the ground – rubber from the tires of the cars. Yup, we all picked up a sample and kept it. As we walked around the back, they were sending a car through for testing – but slowly. It was kinda strange to watch Test Track in slow motion.
We walked around the back of the building and walked over to the CM building. This is where the uniform shop is, the lockers and the training center, and the this and the that. There are no utilidoors at Epcot, so most of the office and employee type stuff is located here. The is a bus stop right outside the building to take the CMs to the parking lot which is located no where near here!
Once inside, we talked about the carpet, this is where they test out new samples. There were rows and rows and rows of lockers for the CMs to use – boys sections marked by Goofy, Mickey and Donald. Girl’s sections had Minnie, Tink and Daisy – I think. We then went back into costuming and WOW!!! There were a lot of clothes in here, and very well organized. The system of picking up and dropping off the CM uniforms was explained to us, but it is more than I really want to go into in this trip report.
After this jaunt, we headed into this little trailer where we were each handed a bottle of water and took seats around a table. Here we met a Guest Relations CM that was part of the International Program. I wish I could remember her name. But she told us about how she came to work for Disney and some of her plans for the future. We were able to ask a lot of questions, but it was really me and this one other guy asking.
When we left here, we walked into the back of China. Yeah, we didn’t have to go far to get here from Test Track, they are practically right next to each other, with Mexico in between.
Very good report again! That tour sounds fun!
Great report Lara. I have friend who works for HP, I wonder if she knows about that special lounge?
We want more! we want more!
*i'm banging my fist on the table while chanting this**
April 23rd, oh yeah it's gonna be ON!
This was the end of our tour. We all got our special Undiscovered pins and Michael told us that he had arranged a special VIP viewing for Illuminations that night. Also, we could get a 15% discount at Nine Dragons. A few of the group took up that offer and I decided I would go along and see if there was something on the menu I would eat. The people were very nice, but I ended up leaving them there to enjoy their Chinese while I walked around the Showcase to the UK pavilion. I got some Fish and Chips from the stand (I love it when they call you love here!) and had a seat in the Gardens to enjoy. I am a picky eater, but I love me some fish and chips from here.
After I finished eating, I went into the Toy Store to see if Mary Poppins was there. She wasn’t, but I wanted to get a picture of her carpet bag. I did get that and spoke to a nice CM there who was from Scotland. She had quiet an accent and I had a hard time understanding her.
I left there and walked towards the International Gateway. I ran into Chip and Dale here and had my picture taken with them sitting on a park bench. I tried to show this little girl in a stroller how fun they were, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with the.
I waited for the next Friendship boat and took that over to The Studios, via Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club and the Swan and the Dolphin.
Upon entering the park, I went straight over to Guest Services to speak to them about tours and what they recommend and what they new would be available the next day. I used their phone to call and book a spot on the 8:30am Keys to the Kingdom Tour for the next morning.
Next stop, Tower of Terror. On my last trip to The World, no one would ride this with me. I went to get a fast pass and the CM there told me that there was no wait. The sign stated 30 minutes, but as sure as can be, there was no line. I got the fast pass and headed into the standby line and waited only about 2 minutes to enter into the library – I didn’t even have any time to take some pictures of the lobby. Once in the elevator room, again, hardly a line. But as soon as we stopped, I heard a call for single riders – that’s me!!!
It was a great ride in the back row, middle seat. I got off and right back on again for another drop!
I had about 15 minutes left for my fast pass time, so I walked over to Rockin’ Roller Coaster to check out the wait. There were no Fast Passes left for the day and the sign said the wait was 45 minutes – NAH!!! Instead I walked back over to the ToT and waited out my time by making a couple of phone calls to friends. I then went on my 3rd trip in the elevator for the day and this one was the best. We dropped like 3 or 4 times, and we thought it was done as we paused at the bottom and people started talking, reaching down for their bags and what not. Then, all of a sudden, we flew back up all the way to the top, the doors open, and we dropped all the way back down. It was great, and everyone on the elevator was screaming and clapping as we got off saying it was their best ride on the Tower of Terror.
After getting off, I walked around the corner to see this long line towards Rockin’ Roller Coaster, I couldn’t believe the line had gotten this long. Turns out it was the line to get your wristband for Extra Magic Hours that night. It was the first time I noticed the CM’s were scanning the room keys. I got my bracelet and headed towards the BAH. The characters were out, and I wanted to check to see who was there. At once I saw Prince Ali!!! Now, Jerrame had bragged just 2 days ago that she had her picture with Prince Ali and how you never see him out, Aladdin, yes, but never Prince Ali. So, of course, I had to go get in line and get my picture made! Amazingly, his line was the shortest of all. The line for others were being cut off. I did have my picture taken with a villain from Pocahontas, but when I saw a Penguin with Mary Poppins, I ran over – but they had cut off that line. I was disappointed.
I then headed down Mickey Ave, passing the construction on the site where Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Play It used to be. The line to see some of the characters along the avenue were pretty long. I peeked in to see if the line to see Sorcerer Mickey was just as long – it wasn’t bad. I soon had my picture taken and I walked around to see The Muppets.
The last few times here, I missed the preshow for The Muppets and that is one of the funniest things about seeing this 3D movie. Well, just keeping with the trend, I saw the tale end and we all walked into the theatre. Funny thing was, they didn’t tell people to move all the way down, they said to move part of the way down, leaving no more than 10 seats at the end of the row…interesting. I enjoyed the show as always.
Leaving the theatre and walking back around, I saw meet and greets with The green army men (not Sarge though), as well as Woody and Buzz – I did not get in line that. I walked over to Pizza Planet to grab some dinner. The place is CRAZY loud with all the games and the kids running around. I think they were shutting down for the night as they stopped the line a few people after me. The bad thing about this place is that most of the sitting area is upstairs. I just could not do the stairs at this time, so I went outside to eat. It was really cold, but I was fine. A few families went to walk in and I mentioned to them that I thought the place was closed. It seemed a little odd to me that they would close when it was Extra Magic Hours that night. Maybe people aren’t really on this side of the park and really focus on Tower of Terror and Aerosmith.
After eating, I walked back towards the BAH and then down to Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Man, there were crowds and crowds of people walking this way, but they were all going to the amphitheatre to see Fantasmic. I stopped in a couple of stores to look for some gloves and a hat. I finally found some and put them on, and it really helped, it was getting really cold as the sun went down.
I walked over to the ride and got in line, it went pretty fast, but I noticed that half of the queue was blocked off by a construction fence. I asked the CM there what was going on – they are putting in a single rider’s line. This is great news to me, wish they had it earlier that day. Pretty soon I was in a car and off racing through LA – I love this coaster and the loud music and the darkness, it is always a great ride.
When I got out of the building, I noticed that they had a photopass guy set up taking pictures in front of the big guitar, so of course I had my picture taken here.
At that time, I decided I had done all there was to go and I went to the front of the park to leave, get back on the Friendship boats and head back to Epcot.
Once I got there, I walked through the countries, not really stopping. I wanted to check out the spot where our VIP section was. While walking, I did not pass many people, it was so empty. This place was dead, and I was thinking it was because of the cold. I was freezing with my hoodie, hat and gloves, and some people barely had coats on.
I made it over to Italy and found the location, no one there except the poor CM whose duty it was to look over the VIP section.
I decided to go into a couple of shops and look around and enjoy the heat! I bought this cute snowman ornament from the glass shop in Italy, as well as this cool stone wine stopper. It was my mom’s birthday last week and I told her that I would be getting her gifts at WDW! I then walked over to the American Pavilion and bought a pretzel and a coke. Most people were getting hot drinks, but I really needed the caffeine as it had been a long day.
I walked over to the VIP section and had a seat on the bench and scraped off about a ton of salt off the pretzel – it looked like it had sleeted around me. I called my mom, Jerrame, Caroline and Melissa to update all of them on my trip so far. Everyone asked what I had learned on my tour that morning and I really couldn’t remember anything – maybe my brain was freezing.
Pretty soon some of the other folks from the tour started showing up and we all started chatting. One couple said they saw me at MGM and were sad when they went into Pizza Planet and it was closed – after they saw me eating pizza! They also rode on the same boat back to Epcot and tried to walk with me, but they said I was just clipping along. They had stopped to watch the show in France – I wish I had thought of that! We all gathered around the fence and watched Illuminations! It was AWESOME! I think this view is just perfect! I remembered some things about Illuminations that Michael had told us earlier that day, such as the colors of fireworks that are used just by Disney!!!
We all enjoyed it, and enjoyed the VIP section we had to ourselves – but I think we could have stood just about anywhere that night and had a good view – did I mention that Epcot was EMPTY?!
We strolled around to the front of the park and all went our separate directions. I grabbed a bus back to All Star Music, and on the bus someone knocked into me and I dropped my bag. I was so upset when I got back to my room and unwrapped the snowman – he had broken. I may have time to run back to Epcot after my Keys to the Kingdom tour the next day to see if I could exchange it.
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