Ultimate Adventurer Grand Prize Trip Report, Days 5-7
Friday, August 14th:
Yup, you guessed it – we were up early again, despite the late night beforehand. It was hard to wake up the girls, but they were soon ready to get going. We had breakfast at the lounge and then met everyone in the lobby. BIL and family were off to Tampa, so we said our goodbyes. Tim’s other brother and mom stayed with us and we took the bus to the Studios.
We arrived at the Studios 8:15ish and immediately went to get FP for TSM (return time 11am). Unfortunately we were planning on leaving the park around 10:30, but we used the FPs another day, so it all worked out. We went to Muppets (which made me think that I need to find some of the old Muppet shows on DVDs… my kids are not familiar with this classic series!). We walked past the AI audition area and Tim was playing with the idea of auditioning. I checked to see if my friend Jason was working that day – unfortunately he was but he was busy.
We then waited about 20 min to ride GMR. The kids were scared by the bank robbery scene (I made sure they closed their eyes for the Alien scene) but liked the ending with the Munchkin Village. They are HUGE Wizard of Oz fans, so that was a read treat. “Look mom, there’s Dorthony!”
Then we had to see Little Mermaid as Katie loves Ariel. I love this show -- it’s so well done with the puppets, especially the “Under the Sea” song. Katie immediately wanted to see it again and we promised to try another day.
Now here’s where it gets funky.
We left the park at 10:30am with the intention of getting a bus to DTD. You veterans are thinking – Duh, there is no bus to DTD from the theme parks! Okay, I realized this as soon as we got to the bus area. No problem, we’ll take a taxi. So we walked all the way to the taxi stand, only to see a taxi pull away. Hey, why don’t we go to the bus information booth and see if they can order us a taxi? So that’s what we did. The booth called a taxi and said it would be there in 3-5 min. So we trekked BACK out to the taxi stand (couldn’t figure out which was the actual taxi stand – there was a drop off and another spot). As soon as we got out there, we saw another group of people standing there… and a taxi pulled up… and took them away. They stole our taxi.
Please remember this is all being done under the beating hot Florida sun.
So. By now it was about 11:15am. A nice bus driver noticed our distress and had her get on her bus to the Yacht Club, which I knew was the right option. So we went to the Yacht Club, got off the bus, and proceeded to wait for a bus to DTD for 25 minutes. We finally arrived at DTD around 12pm, but thankfully T Rex didn’t mind that we were 30 min late. We were seated immediately in a round booth by the sea section. Julie was in her element! The food was good too… we shared a bunch of dishes amongst the adults and everyone agreed it was all tasty. The kids menu was almost identical to the RFC menu, but the kids were happy. I’ve heard lots of comments from people about how loud this restaurant is --- and they’re right. It’s like a nightclub. Music, roaring dinosaurs, meteor showers every 20 minutes… everything should be turned down a notch and it would be more pleasant. The animatronics were fantastic but I’m glad we didn’t sit in the ice cave portion of the restaurant – the lighting came from the changing colors of the cave. How do you see what you’re eating?
We made a stop at the gift shop for Build-A-Dinos for the girls. Julie was planning on this ever since she found out that there was one. Katie chose to get one too. I was hoping to get back to the shop by myself as I could have done a bunch of Xmas shopping but time never worked out.
So we left the restaurant around 2pm, walked over and waited for another bus. It took us 40 minutes to get back to the Wilderness Lodge. Tim took the kids to the pool (where Julie came in 4th in a game of musical paws) while I did some laundry. When we were getting ready for dinner, Julie said her tummy was hurting but thankfully it was a false alarm. My mommy nerves kicked in, but weren’t necessary, hallelujah. Plus I had a good diversion --- California Grill.
We haven’t been to California Grill since I was pregnant with Julie in 2002. I forgot what a stunning view it has! The food was fantastic – I had the salmon, we shared the sushi and desserts. The only thing I missed was being able to share the dinner with my hubby who was all the way across the table while I was sitting between the two girls, keeping them occupied. Thankfully I had remembered to bring some new coloring for them.
We went out on the balcony after dinner and the girls were pointing out all of their favorite landmarks. Katie even pointed out that you could see the logs going down Splash Mountain. The BLT is beautiful. Has anyone noticed the huge amount of crows that congregate around the CR? Rather Hitchcock-ian.
After that we went back to the WL for more laundry and a treat – internet! I was dying to check my email (5 days without email… too long…). Then it was to bed early, as we had another early morning ahead of us.
Saturday, Aug 15th:
This morning was our family tradition – breakfast at the Crystal Palace before park opening. We got to the MK via boat around 7:50, had someone take our picture on a very empty Main Street, and checked into CP. We were the 5th or 6th family in. I love this breakfast. The Pooh characters are always great to meet and the food is always tasty. I love the look of the restaurant too – a place I always wanted to go to when I was a kid.
We missed Piglet in lieu of getting out of the restaurant before the rides opened.
The kids wanted to do Dumbo, so we headed there --- but wait! Ariel was in her grotto and there was no wait. Katie’s one request for this trip was to meet Ariel. Of course when we met her Katie was as shy as anything! But Julie did talk to her and she was very gracious to both of them.
Peter pan was next. This time Katie showed me all of the characters on the ride “look Mommy we’re in Wendy’s room”, “look there’s the mermaids!” Then we rode the carousel and small world (ride count: 3) while Tim went to Splash for FPs… gee, wonder why he didn’t want to go on small world again…)
We walked over to Toontown. It was 9:45 and I was surprised to see that it was open, as it usually opens at 10am. We went to the tent and saw that the Fairies already had a 45 minute wait! The CM explained that they opened Toontown early and all the people waiting had made the 45 min wait. Geez, I didn’t know the Fairies were so popular.
Thankfully my girls weren’t that invested in meeting Tinker Bell. So we let them ride Goofy’s Barnstormer 3 times. The last two times they didn’t need to get off the ride, just went on it again. I found the stand by the exit had unsweetened ice tea (not easy to find in the parks at CS), so I was happy. We walked through Minnie’s house (where the kitchen was once again a hit) before deciding to take the train around to Frontierland.
We arrived in Frontierland just in time for the girls makeovers at the Pirate’s League. All of the CMs kept in character from the minute we checked in to the minute we left. Some were better than others but they all stayed in character. Julie’s pirate, Erin, was fantastic. She had a story for everything – how she got her name, stories about Capt. Jack, and how to be a real pirate. It was a real experience – the girls first had to receive their pirate names (by rolling dice in a chest), then they were taken into the pirate room. They sat in chairs and received their makeovers with accompanying pirate booty. After learning how to hold a pirate sword, they were taken into a secret pirate room (can’t tell you about that!). It was expensive but totally worth it. The girls were a little overwhelmed with all of the attention (and didn’t totally enjoy the feel of the makeup on a hot August day). They got a lot of attention from CMs and guests alike as we traveled back to the WL!
I think we had lunch back at the room while the kids watched some of Wall-E. Tim went to pick up our rental car, as his brother had taken the car that we had borrowed from the in-laws in Tampa. We rented from the Car Care Center and it was very easy. They sent a shuttle to the WL to pick him up and he was back pretty quickly.
After a nice cool break in the room, we went off to Epcot for our 5pm dinner at Teppan Edo. This was not one of my favorite dinners from the trip. The food was good and we all enjoyed the entertaining chef… but the room was hot, noisy, and crowded. The kids were flagging at that point too, and weren’t happy with having to sit for any amount of time.
We knew that it was a good idea to get the kids to bed early that night, so we only did Spaceship Earth on the way out of Epcot. Julie really enjoyed it. I miss Jeremy Irons.
We went back to the hotel and the kids watched the rest of Wall-E before collapsing in bed. I had a little more energy, so I took the car to Downtown Disney. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that it was a Saturday night and all of Orlando was interested in going to DTD. I rode through the parking lot and drove back to the WL without even getting out of the car. For whatever reason, this really upset me and by the time I got back to the WL I was in tears. I think it was because it was the only night I had by myself and I was wasting it by driving around looking for a parking spot! (Ironic… I should have taken a Disney bus….) But the night was not lost. In fact it turned out okay. I caught the boat to the MK and did some shopping at the Emporium. It was getting close to 10pm and Wishes, so the plan was to finish shopping right before 10 and walk out into the street to see the fireworks. But at about 9:50pm everyone started coming into the stores. It was pouring! I didn’t want to get stuck in the stores (silly me) so I walked outside the stores hoping to get a place to stand by the Plaza Restaurant. I only made it to one of the umbrella tables before it started pouring. Me and 3 other girls stood there and chatted for about 10 minutes while the rain got worse then better. As soon as it let up, I said my goodbyes to my new friends and walked up to the popcorn stand in the hub. I found an unobstructed view under cover and waited for Wishes. It was postponed about 15 minutes. What a beautiful show. I have to admit though – the only place to see it is standing directly on Main Street. I’ve now seen it from about 4 different spots and that is definitely the best one.
After a quick ride on the Haunted Mansion (figured I would do it now as the girls had no intention of doing it again!) I headed back to the hotel on my favorite ride, the WL boat. Whenever I get stressed out here at home, I remember that boat ride and how cool and beautiful it is. J
Re: Ultimate Adventurer Grand Prize Trip Report, Days 5-7
Sunday, Aug 17th:
We actually slept in this morning – 6:30am! No EMH or character breakfasts… just normal park opening at DHS. We had breakfast in the concierge lounge (can I just tell you… I LOVE the lounge. How am I going to get my husband to splurge on concierge next trip so we can have the convenience of the lounge…)
We arrived in the DHS parking lot at about 8:50am… which unfortunately got us into the park a little after opening. By the time we got to Toy Story Mania, it had a 40 min wait. So we shrugged our shoulders and decided to try and use our FPs from Friday a little later. We walked around to Star Tours and rode… Katie thought it was too loud and the robot was ‘a bad driver’. We started towards Muppets and Tim walked ahead to see what else was in the area. We quickly discovered the Cars meet and greet area, with one family waiting in line and a CM about to introduce Lightning and Mater! Julie was in awe – she’s a huge Cars fan. We got our pictures taken and enjoyed watching Julie smile. :)
After that we headed over to Playhouse Disney, which was just okay. In the past this has been one of our favorite shows, as the girls loved the characters, the music, and the bubbles. But this time we were seated so close to the stage that we couldn’t see the characters. Who designed this stage? There must be a better way to do this so kids can actually see.
Time for our 2nd viewing of Little Mermaid, just for my Katie. We sat in the very first row and got quite wet! You know how you feel a little mist during parts of the show? Well, the first few rows get doused, not misted. Ariel’s singing was a little behind this time… we couldn’t decide whether she was trying to be artistic (must be hard to sing the same stuff day after day…) or if she was just plain behind. Either way, we still did enjoy the show – and Katie’s smiles. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Lunch was at Pizza Planet! The kids liked the fact that we were eating in Buzz and Woody’s place. Tim and I enjoyed the pizza and the Mickey head rice crispie treats for dessert. I don’t know why this place gets knocked… I think the pizza is pretty tasty, and we had a fairly quiet table upstairs.
But if the girls thought eating at Pizza Planet was cool…. They were about to be really impressed! We walked back to Pixar Place for our attempt to ride TSM when we noticed that the Buzz and Woody meet and greet had NO line. When we had walked through that morning there were tons of people waiting… so this was a real treat. We really lucked out with meeting characters on this trip. I think I was as excited as the girls to meet ‘the guys’.
And we got lucky at TSM --- the CM took one look at our overdue FPs and let us in. I breathed a sigh of relief and silently promised to make it up to someone, someday. TSM was AWESOME. I love how fast paced the ride is… how it spins you around from screen to screen… and the theming! So COOL! Disney really hit it out of the park on this one.
We left DHS after that, as we had a special treat waiting for us. We drove over to the Yacht Club as Capt. Mike Scibetta had graciously consented to take us out on Breathless II!! Lou had arranged it with him for us. We took our time and looked around the Yacht Club beforehand, and my husband said, “Can we stay here next time?” I agreed with him as it is a beautiful resort.
Unfortunately we never got our ride on Breathless. We did get to meet Capt. Mike, who was the nicest guy. Breathless was having some mechanical problems but we did get to climb in and get a closer look (and some pictures). I hope we get a chance to try her out on our next trip!
To make up for the missed boat ride, we walked over to Beaches and Cream for ice cream, all the while looking longingly at Stormalong Bay. We were all very happy for the cold ice cream and the beautiful surroundings.
We took a break at our hotel after that. The kids watched some of Aladdin on TV while Tim and I started packing. We were moving over to the AKL the next day… I was so sad to see this part of our stay end! But we were all interested to see what AKL had in store for us.
One last treat before we left WL though… a short boat ride over to Fort Wilderness for Hoop-Dee-Doo! I had never been over to FW, or seen the show. We arrived a couple minutes late (as we had to wait for a boat) but in plenty of time for the show. Our table was in the 2nd row directly in front of the stage. The room is not big, so all the seats look like good seats, but I was glad we had paid for Category 1. Nothing like being right up front! We started off with drinks, salad, and very yummy cornbread. The ribs were a bit tough but the fried chicken was delicious! Everyone in the family agreed that the show was fabulous. The girls laughed so hard at Six Bits’ antics. It was a pleasure to see, all around – I myself haven’t laughed that hard in a long while!
We returned to the WL for some pool time (Tim and the girls) and packing (me!). After the kids went to bed I took a long walk around the resort, trying to take everything in. It had been our home for a week and who knows when we’ll be back here again. It is such a gorgeous resort – the lobby with its high rafters… the water flowing from the lobby to the pool… the pool itself… the view of Bay Lake…
Re: Ultimate Adventurer Grand Prize Trip Report, Days 5-7
Thanks for all your posts. Your comments on transportation are greatly appreciated.