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Trip Reports & Member Reviews Discuss My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9/11 in the Vacation Planning forums; Great trip report!...
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Great trip report!
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Day 4, Pt. 2: Open the Door, Get on the Floor, Everybody Walk the Dinosaur!

    As I mentioned, after Joe and I rode Kali River Rapids, we made a quick run by Everest to see if we could squeeze in one more ride. Middle of the afternoon? Yeah right!

    Most of you know that when walking to Everest you must pass right by Yak & Yeti. I had made ADR’s there back in July but the best we could get was 4:15 and others in the group didn’t like that. Admittedly that’s a little early for dinner, especially since our systems are on Central time so that would be like eating dinner at 3:15. Anyway, when we walked by it smelled SO GOOD!!! My mouth started watering like Pavlov’s mutt, and Joe agreed. But, oh well . . .

    We headed back to Pop and I collected Sean from the kiddy pool so Wendy could chill for a while as was her only desire this trip. He was not thrilled to be forced back to the room but after drying off and a little chocolate milk, he was soon tucked in bed and catching a little snooze time. I was laid in my bed and watched Stacey’s Must-Do list for the 18th time with a little Coke Zero in my mug. Kudos to WDW for having CZ in the food court fountains, by the way!

    It wasn’t long before my eyelids started to droop as well. As I was just drifting off with visions of sugar plums, the adjoining door opened and there was Joe (not a vision you want to wake to, unless of course you’re Mrs. Joe!) He said they were going to hang out in their room a while and would leave the doors open if I wanted to go to the pool. I was just a little comfortable and a little lazy to get up, put my suit on, etc. so I politely declined. Wendy returned soon after anyway and we began to pull ourselves together for dinner.

    Our dinner reservation was for 7:00 at T-REX. I’ve said it already, but I was so excited for this one, and for a couple reasons. The first is I’m a dinosaur nut. Have been since I was about 4 years old. I’m such a dino-nut I even like Jurassic Park 3! Heck, I even liked the Flinstones movies. Both of them! Although there is a theory that the Flintstones were not actually about the past but in fact a post-Apocalyptic future where mankind must rebuild with modern know-how but primitive resources, hence stone houses, etc, and thereby making those creatures radiation-created mutant aberrations and not actually dinosaurs at all, but of course that’s a discussion for another thread . . .!

    The other reason is I am a big fan of Rainforest Café. I work only about 10 minutes from one, and on particularly aggravating days, I will escape on my lunch break and just sort of mill around the gift shop. The employees are even getting to know me. I recently explained to one that they are cheaper than therapy for me. She laughed, gestured to the aquarium archway and said “yes, you know fish are supposed to be very relaxing.” I just like it because it looks, feels, and smells like vacation to me. There’s a palpable Disney influence there. The creator, Steve Schussler even uses a lot of Walt quotes. Usually after a few minutes at RFC and quick stop upstairs in the Disney Store, I can more or less get through the rest of the day. For the record we do also eat there on occasion!

    Finally, I also feel a (very) loose connection to the Schussler brand. Steve Schussler’s first foray into the restaurant-ish business was a brand of nightclubs here in the Chicago area called Jukebox Saturday Night. As you can infer, it was a 50’s/60’s inspired dance club for adults in the 80’s. When I was a kid and my then single-mother was dating, I recall many a Saturday night when we’d have a sitter so she and friends could go to JBSN. We didn’t live far from it and that cherry red ’57 Chevy front-end hanging out over the doorway was a familiar site. Schussler had wild design ideas, even then. Fast-forward about 20 years and there I was, nearly-30, singing on-stage in the very same club belting out the Eagles and Jimmy Buffett songs.

    Of course it had long since been sold and at that point was called Zookeepers (lame) and the walls were plastered with tiger and zebra stripes and neon lights hung everywhere. The “V.I.P.” room was an oversized booth to the right of the stage separated by plastic “animal cage” bars. As David Byrne once sang “and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here???”
    Still, the nostalgia was there for me.

    So anyway, enough sidebar, you get the idea. I was excited to go to T-REX Café!

    I think we were on the DTD bus by 6:15ish. Joe and I had to stand towards the back of the shuttle, which was fine. But from our vantage point we both witnessed as a woman (who by the by was also the one that held up the bus because she was on an ECV, though stood unassisted and sat down walked to a seat without visible effort) glared, rolled her eyes, and whispered comments to her husband about Sean and Abby the whole ride. The kids were well-rested and were being let’s just say a bit boisterous. I am the first to admit, and get annoyed, when my kid is being obnoxious. In this case, he was not. And even those closest to them were laughing and encouraging him, asking “who did you see today?” etc.

    I just wanted to say to the lady, “look, if excited children bother you, next time just go to Branson. I hear there’s nobody under the age of 100 there!” (Ok, cheap shot. My apologies to fans of Andy Williams and Yakov Smirnoff!)

    After studying the map, Ashley had recommended we exit at the Pleasure Island stop, rather than the DTD stop. But Joe and I called an audible that we would exit at the first drop. We explained to the girls later that we wanted to get off before one of us throttled the old lady. Plus I got the impression they were getting off at the first stop as well, and we’d have all had to wait for her to get off before moving on to the P.I. stop. So we snaked our way around the shops and restaurants, and I with my enthusiastic gate was the first to reach T-REX. I would later have to admit that the Pleasure Island stops are so much closer, so if you’re planning on eating there, keep that in mind! You could spit your gum and hit T-REX from those stops. Please don’t try it; I’m just sayin’!

    I was at the podium right at 7:00 and we were more or less seated immediately. They no sooner handed me a pager then it was going off. Now, as for theme restaurants, its no secret many are often heavy-handed on spectacle, often cheaply slapped together, to the point where it’s just too much. And all to often its meant to mask the lower food quality. You end up paying for flair.

    As far as T-REX Café is concerned, this is not at all the case! I thought it was AWESOME! Yes, it is a lot of spectacle. But I loved it. I love the animatronics. I love the giant Rex and her pups that greet you right at the entrance. I love the themed rooms, although I still don’t entirely get the giant octopus over the bar. But it works! My eyes couldn’t stop darting all around.

    They sat us in the Geo-Tech Room which is covered by a “night sky” where there’s a meteor shower every 20 minutes. From our table I had a great view of most of the restaurant. I was looking right at the Rex in the center of the place, and the Wooly Mammoth was to my right, as well as the Ice Age room. That is amazing by the way! When you walk into it, it’s really like walking into a glacier. The lighting is so weird though and it takes your eyes a few minutes to adjust. I don’t know how the servers deal with constantly coming in and out of it. It would be like eating in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

    With any restaurant of course, the proof is in the pudding, right? The fear with a place like T-REX is that the food won’t be that good. Well, while I didn’t have any actual pudding, I can tell that everything I ate was DELICIOUS! We started with the nachos which ,while nothing really special about the ingredients were really tasty and would be a hit at any football party. Then I had the Boneyard Buffet which is bbq ribs and half a roasted chicken, along with waffle fries and cole slaw. My only complaint at all is that the chicken was a little bland. But it was cooked well and very juicy. The ribs were great. They were more saucy than the ones I’d had at Flame Tree (yes for those paying attention, I had ribs twice in one day!) The flavor was really nice and the meat tender. What else can you ask for? Joe had the Gigantosaurus burger, which looked bananas! Imagine a double-cheeseburger on steroids. I don’t even remember what the girls had because I was elbow deep in BBQ sauce and slaw!

    But everyone agreed that the food was great. And the drinks were fantastic too! I have a “Category-5” which quite honestly I don’t remember what was in it (there’s a reason for that) but just know it involves a lot of rum and its red . . . I think. Even popped for the souvenir glasses for $13. So you know, if you do get the first one in the glass, you don’t have to pay $13 if you want another. It’s like $6 or $7 bucks. And they bring you a new glass in a box when you’re ready to leave. I know this may seem like standard operating procedure, but Joe was walking to the bathroom to rinse his and dry it off before our waitress stopped him. And I can’t laugh because I might’ve done the same! I try to act like I’ve been somewhere before but sometimes . . .

    When we’d finished the girls took the kids outside while I waited for the bill. As most of you know T-REX is not part of the dining plan. And I will forewarn you that it’s not cheap. It’s not super expensive but it is pricey; expect to pay vacation prices if you know what I mean. But I will also tell you, from my perspective, it is money well spent. Everyone really enjoyed the entire experience. And I’ve seen some reviews of people saying “T-REX is not for little kids” etc, and I guess you just have to consider the kid. Our kids loved it.

    The only time Sean got scared at all was when Wendy and I were taking pictures all around the restaurant by various displays. Wendy was holding him in front of a baby Brachiosaurus and out of nowhere it decided to wake up and swing its neck around behind them. They both jumped out of their skins. But it was funny, and Sean quickly recovered before any tears appeared. I think Wendy took longer to compose herself! I just regret not having the video camera!

    While I was settling up, the manager stopped by our table to ask how everything was. We actually had a nice conversation. She told us that they went from being slammed to slow virtually over night the week before and she seemed genuinely appreciative to have us there. We talked about the opening and I asked about her career. She’s been with the company a long time, managing a couple RFC’s and then she opened the Yak & Yeti (which was also a Schussler brainchild.) She asked if we’d eaten there and I just growled. Just kidding, but I told her about only being able to get an early reservation, to which she told me we could have just walked up at any time we wanted and they’d have fit us in pretty quickly. She also confirmed that the smells weren’t deceiving and that the food really is good. So it is definitely a must on my next trip. Super nice lady.

    She had funny stories about Steve Schussler and even dropped a rumor about what he and the Imagineers might be partnering up on for DTD / P.I. next. It actually seemed like a weird idea, and somewhat unlikely given they have one at Epcot already. I ain’t saying any more because I don’t wanna get sued or get her fired! I'll leave the scooping to Lou.

    I’ll just say anything’s possible at Disney!!!

    Sean and I built a “castle” at the LEGO store for a while (castle means Sean stacked as many blocks on top of each other as he could get his hands on in a straight column) while the ladies shopped at the World of Disney. Joe had gone off in search of some sports themed store (Mickey’s Athletic Club?) Anyway, I made the mistake of taking a tired, cranky, 2 & ½ year old who was already annoyed with me for leaving the LEGO store into WoD. That was dumb. Everything at eye level was “I want!” or “Mine!” Bad daddy! Bad!!!

    After a whirl on the carousel we stopped at Goofy’s Candy Company. I must admit my wife told me numerous times I should pack our cups from the last time we went when we made those slushies in there. Mine’s got a Goofy hat and shoes and hers in Minnie Mouse. She kept saying, they will refill them there and it’s cheaper and you know when you’re there you’ll want one. But me being a man said no, it’s just more junk to pack and then lug around. We’ll be fine. I won’t want one. Too much sugar anyway. Yadda yadda yadda! So we walked into Goofy’s Candy Company that night and guess what was the first thing my mouth started watering for . . . !

    But as good as it sounded to cap off a good night with a slushie, it just wasn’t worth the “I told you so’s.”

    Just putting it out there guys. If you’ve got ‘em, take your cups. It’s worth it.
    Although I wouldn’t have minded making a Stitch cup too!!!

    At any rate, we made our way back to the busses loaded with treats, and soon were back home at Pop. It really was a good night. One of those “fall asleep with a simple, satisfied smile on your face” nights.

    The next day was Thursday, our last full day in Walt Disney World. I was already getting depressed. I must admit, this is the first trip to Disney that I found myself having a hard time just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it. Everyday I had this running counter in my brain, counting down to Friday when it all blew up. I don’t know why that was. Guess I’m just getting older. Yeesh!

    Still, we had one more day and we were going to make the most of every minute we could spending our final day at the Magic Kingdom one more time.
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  3. #18
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Great report, sad to see your last day coming...


    "The other reason is I am a big fan of Rainforest Café. I work only about 10 minutes from one, Usually after a few minutes at RFC and quick stop upstairs in the Disney Store, I can more or less get through the rest of the day. For the record we do also eat there on occasion!"

    Guess'n you might work near Woodfield?

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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Quote Originally Posted by HauntedGabe View Post
    Guess'n you might work near Woodfield?
    You would be correct! Home of the DVC Doorway to Dreams store.

  5. #20
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Day 5: One Last Trip to the Laughin' Place

    We took our time getting up and ready for our last day, Friday. We had a 10:15 breakfast ADR for Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. We assembled the troops and hopped the bus for Magic Kingdom. We figured we’d just catch the monorail over to Contemporary. Actually, on Monday when we’d gone to MK, there were only a handful of guests on the bus, and the driver actually stopped and dropped some folks off right in front of the resort first. We considered asking if we could do the same, but this bus was packed to the gills. So we got to MK and since it was actually a nice morning and we noticed quite a line waiting to board the monorails, we opted to simply hoof it.

    The CM’s hovering around the bus stops were very friendly and on actually stopped a bus to let us “jay-walk” across the street to the right sidewalk. It is a pretty easy walk, even with two strollers and didn’t take but a few minutes. And I got a pretty good look at Bay Lake Tower. As we passed the crowds waiting to board shuttles at Contemporary, for some reason I felt a little subconscious. In my mind I created an air of higher-class and sophistication about them (i.e. money.) After all, we were a sweaty band of nomads who were staying at a value resort. These folks were in a deluxe monolith of a hotel. Stupid. I know. It continued as we entered the lobby, until the suited gentleman greeting us smiled and asked if he could assist us as he immediately offered a Sean a sleeve of Mickey stickers. I explained we were there for breakfast and he enthusiastically said “Chef Mickey’s? Wonderful. Just take the elevator right on up to the 4th floor.”

    I know, that’s his job, but still. He did it very well. It reminded me that Walt intended a place where rich or not, you were treated like a true guest. Anyway, I really liked the Contemporary (I’d never actually been in it – only through it once on the ‘rail.) And we all had a great breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. This buffet was even better than the Crystal Palace breakfast. A lot of the same stuff, but a couple surprises. My favorite thing, besides the breakfast pizza that’s supposed to be for the kids, was the corned beef hash. They also had hash at the CP which of course was good. In fact, Joe and I discussed how it was really an higher quality, with big hunks of meat and potatoes, etc, but good as it was what we really wanted was that good ol’ Hormel right outta the can style. The hash at Chef Mickey’s was much more akin to that. I think I had 3 helpings. I know, no accounting for taste I guess.

    There’s nothing better before attacking one of the parks than loading up on a good breakfast. Really that’s a good strategy prior to a lot of activities, other than going to work of course!

    And the character interaction was great. The kids were so used to seeing characters at this point there was no fear. They loved them all, especially the main Mouse!

    In our planning stages, we’d thought we’d go back to the hotel after breakfast, but once you’re that close it’s kind of hard to just leave again. So in we went. We got wise and as soon as we were through the gates, Ashley said they wanted to hit something in Fantasyland but we’d already discussed heading straight to Adventureland for Pirates. So, we split up. Best decision of the trip! Just kidding. Sort of.
    I will say it was so nice just spending the day as the 3 of us. On our way to Pirates, Sean caught sight of the Flying Carpets so we stopped to take a quick flight. Sean even got to control the stick. I don’t know that I’d say I like the carpets even more than Dumbo, but there is something I get a kick out of on them. Maybe I’m just such a fan of Aladdin. As well as of Adventureland.
    After we took a cruise to the Caribbean. I hate to say this, but after riding Pirates in Disneyland, there’s something slightly disappointing about the WDW version. It really is missing so much. I wish when they did the refurb a few years ago they’d have added those extra scenes. But still, it’s Pirates and it’s the first one I rode so it’s special, and its fun.

    When we came out of PoTC the mid-day sun was high and we decided to try Splash Mountain again. The stand-by said 20 minutes, but it seemed to take a lot longer. In no small part to the fact that Sean was not behaving. He wasn’t happy about having to wait to get on the “boat ride” and the heat wasn’t helping his demeanor. Plus, no offense to my European WDW-fans as all are welcome, but when in line and you discover a group of rival soccer club fans, we really don’t need to listen to a chant competition. There were two groups ahead of us in line, and I don’t know where exactly they were from or who they were each rooting for, but they began to shout out these sing-songy chants at each other, back and forth. I know, I sound like I should be wearing black socks with white tennis shoes shouting “get off my lawn.” I suppose if it were 75 degrees with a light breeze and we only had to wait 5 minutes, I’d have found it charming.

    There’s never been a better feeling then stepping into that inner catacomb of the mountain near Brer Frog’s house. That’s when you get that first blast of air conditioning after being in that Florida heat. Oh, and the ride was fun too!

    After the Mountain, I got the sense Wendy might want to head back. I’ll be honest; I can’t even remember for the life of me what we did for lunch that day. I know we filled up Sean’s popcorn bucket at some point that day. And as we made our way through Liberty Square with the intention of leaving, I decided to try again. “How about we check the wait for the Mansion?”
    It was broad daylight after all. Less chance of emotionally scarring our child, I reasoned. Wendy acquiesced and on we went. Got to see Leota’s grave in action which was cool. Ok, so admittedly it’s about as fancy as the Halloween decorations for sale at Walgreens right now, but still, it’s something new. I admit, I was a bit worried about how Sean would react to the Mansion. We rode the one in DL, and during its Nightmare Before Christmas incarnation, and that opening in the parlor really freaked him out. However I’d say it’s safe to say it was the volume of Jack Skellington shrieking that got him. This time around, Sean didn’t flinch. Admittedly I was kind of whispering into his ear when I knew the loud noise was coming.

    He was great throughout the whole ride. In fact he laughed and looked all around at everything. The new scenes are very much an improvement. Especially the bride’s room. That was really cool. And the Escher staircases are much better than the giant spider web. Overall they did a good job of “plussing it” without completely changing or throwing something distracting into it. It all works. I’m thankful the Haunted Mansion movie was a flop; otherwise we might see an animatronic Eddie Murphy in every third or fourth scene!

    We decided to head back to Pop and relax for a bit. Wendy said she was exhausted and was going to lay down with Sean. I decided to head down to the pool one last time. I threw my book (Heaven & ****: My Life with the Eagles by Don Felder – I recommend it), my iPod, and the remaining Bud Lights (thank you Aunt Renee) into my backpack.

    Sidebar: I’m a big fan of backpacks still, even at 34 and not really being an outdoorsman. My wife got me the one I use now 10 years ago. It’s a yellow and green Timberland and holds all my personal stuff. I’ve always said that if it came down to it, everything material thing in the world I would need to start over would fit in that pack. And since I’m not a fan of wearing a lanyard, the handful of Disney pins I’ve collected throughout the years are stuck on the outside of it. Gives it a little character (no pun intended) but also can draw attention and funny looks. Which, it seemed to do that day.

    I took a dip in the pool (60’s pool) and then got out to catch some rays and read, but I was having a hard time concentrating. I tried to listen to my iPod but that wasn’t working either. Then I got a picture mail from my 2 managers that read “You’re missing the meeting!” Of course it was a picture of them sitting in the bar of a local Mexican restaurant sipping margaritas at 3:00 in the afternoon. I sent them a picture of the pool as I saw it, then turned my phone on myself hoisting a beer to the camera eye and sent them my rebuttal. “I still win.”

    What I didn’t know is the lady a couple loungers down from me was watching my strange antics. After her third or fourth trip to the bar she stopped by my chair and asked how my book was. I told her I was having a hard time sticking with it and she confessed she been watching me open it and close it. Then inevitably asked about my bag. Actually we had a nice conversation. She was a schoolteacher from Nebraska who came down with her entire family and extended family. Maybe that’s why my backpack intrigued her. Anyway, Kris from Nebraska, I’ll hoist one to you again next time. And for the record, the book is actually really good once you get past the first couple chapters.

    Around 5:30 I headed back to the room and the wife and kid were still sleeping. I fought the urge to sneak back down to Petals bar and took a shower instead. We got back to MK around 7, figuring we’d grab dinner there. Instead we cut over to Fantasyland (oh, p.s. we somehow managed to ditch Ashley and Joe again!) because Sean had seen the Tomorrowland Speedway and flipped out earlier. So we figured we better let him drive a car. Which he got to do. He and Wendy got into one with Sean at the wheel (scary thought) and I followed behind them. I actually haven’t ridden on the Speedway since I was probably 9 years old. It’s one of those things I just kind of skip. It was fun. Nothing super exciting but Sean loved it. On a few of the turns I was able to see his face as the breeze whipped through his hair and he was grinning, tongue hanging out the corner of his mouth, having the time of his life. That’s what it’s all about.

    I did find one negative about the Speedway though. And this will sound hypocritical since I still occasionally smoke (don’t judge me!) The designated smoking area in Tomorrowland is just under the exit walkway from the Speedway. So as you’re heading down the walk to the steps, everyone below is exhaling up at you. At least at that particular moment. It was too much to take. Even for someone who still sneaks one now and then.

    We decided afterwards to take another spin on Goofy’s Barnstormer, this time with mommy. Sean was beside himself when we said we didn’t want to wait in line. Sooo it was off to Big Thunder Mountain again, which we rode two times in a row. By this point we figured we really should get him something to eat. Since it was close, and we only had 2 counter service meals left, we chose Pecos Bill’s. I ordered and waited while Wendy got Sean chicken tenders from the cart right outside. The one thing I remember about Pecos Bills even from when I was kid, and the reason I’ve passed right by it the last few times I’ve been, is that took forever to get your food. No change since the late 80’s I’m afraid. I ordered two burgers. I must have waited at least 15 minutes, as did those around me. I didn’t hear anyone order Surf & Turf but you’d have thought we were waiting for them to boil a lobster.

    As we waited I was privy to a CM meltdown in the kitchen through a tiny square opening. A somewhat (that’s being kind) large girl was hooting and hollering about something she didn’t like and cursing like a sailor. The supervisor was trying to calm her down, or at least shut her up till they were in private. The gist as I understood it was, ironically, she was mad at another CM who was taking too long cooking the food. Go figure.

    By the time we ate, it was getting late already. And I felt that twinge of despair in that our last night was drawing to its imminent close. We decided on one more trip down Splash Mountain for good measure. I can’t help but feel a surge of pride that my kid loves these “big boy” rides already!

    It was about 9:30 when we walked out of Pecos Bill’s and the Spectromagic parade was just getting through Liberty Square. This by the way might be a good tip for those of you in that area when it starts. If its 9:00 o’clock and you want a drink or need to pee, have someone save your spot and go. Take your time. The parade may start at 9:00 o’clock, but it won’t hit Frontierland before 9:30. We decided to grab a spot on the bridge and watch it once more. This time Chernabog even spread his wings in all his demonic glory (is that an oxymoron?)
    Spectromagic was great. As soon as the last float was rolling by, we dashed over to Splash Mountain for one last cruise. I like to ride this one at night when Wishes is going because when you make that turn around the mountain, where the birdhouses are hanging, you get an amazing view of the castle. If you time it right, you get an amazing view of the castle with the fireworks going off all around it. It’s pretty spectacular.

    But wasn’t to be this trip. We were too early. Oh well. It’s not like it spoiled the ride. It was still a great time. The only disappointment, if you can call it that, about our multiple rides on Splash Mountain (And really any of the rides that offer this) is that we never had a good picture turn out of the three of us. Sean is still such a little guy that in most of them he was completely blocked from view (oft times by his Sasquatch of a father!)

    We exited Splash just as Wishes started up so we found a nice spot to watch. That didn’t last long as Sean was not a fan of the thunderous booms of the fireworks, which, being so close can be felt in your chest. He didn’t dig it at all and made it known by clapping his hands over his ears and looking up at me like “What are you doing to me here?!?!”
    So I kicked the stroller in gear and we made our way out, through the masses that were gathered around the castle, toward the exits. Right before we were about to duck out under the tracks, Wendy said she wanted to stop into the photo shop because we had a coupon for a FREE 8 X 10 Photopass picture. And she wanted to order a few others.
    So Sean and I just sort of browsed. I debated buying myself the bright green 2009 shirt (anyone who has been this year knows it well, I’m sure.) In the end I just decided it was a little too bright for me, especially back in Chicago. It was just one of those impulses where it’s like “we’re about to leave and it’s going to be a while before we get back. Buy! Buy! Buy!”

    Instead Sean and I crossed over to the bathrooms by the Firehouse for a pitstop before heading out. I then wheeled him into the Emporium but it became immediately apparent that was a really bad idea. 10:15 P.M. is about the worst time you could possibly pick to try a quick browsing excursion in the Emporium. Unless maybe its extra-magic hours and people are still out on the rides. Otherwise, everybody else exiting the park is inside the Emporium undergoing their own “Buy! Buy! Buy!” frenzy!

    When we got the bus stop the line for Pop Century was insane! To b expected of course at the end of the night. We just hunkered down and waited with the rest of the herd. After a good 20 minute wait, we finally on the bus.

    Our plan for Friday was to simply lay low. Our flight out was a little before 4:00 and the DMX was picking us up at 1:15. So not a lot of time to do too much anyway. We figured we’d just check our stuff with the bellman and hang out at the pool or something. Until we got to the room that night and realized we still had yet another coupon for a FREE 8 X 10 Photopass picture. It pays to look in that little booklet Disney sends you when you book your trip. I had kind of just breezed through the vouchers because I had no plans to go to Planet Hollywood or play mini-golf. I did however use the 30 minutes of free game play one of the afternoons, even though I’m not a video game guy. I actually attempted to play Guitar Hero since there was nobody else in there. Of course as I begin to butcher Slow Ride, a huge crowd of kids came in and I know made fun of me without mercy.

    At any rate, Wendy did not want that free pic going to waste, and it wasn’t valid for online orders so she decided she wanted to hit one of the Photopass shops the next day. I played it cool because I didn’t want to be too enthusiastic and pay for it on the plane because she was exhausted from hitting another park before rushing to the airport. This fear is not unfounded, by the way. It’s rooted firmly in reality from a previous trip!
    The question was, would we just head back to DTD, or a park? And if the latter, which park would it be . . . ???

  6. #21
    HauntedGabe's Avatar
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    You abandoned Joe? Poor Joe. Good for you guys though.
    M
    Well the mystery lives on.......My guess, Epcot!

    Waiting impatiently for your final day.
    Last edited by HauntedGabe; 10-19-2009 at 01:03 AM.

  7. #22
    CaptainFiz13's Avatar
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    I must apologize! I have been without a PC or internet at home for 4 weeks now! But all is finally well again . . .

    Today I had to load up on WDW Radio Shows like an addict after a month of withdrawels!!!

    Thanks for hanging in there!

  8. #23
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Day 6: All My Bags Are Packed, But I'll Never Be Ready to Go.

    The last day is inevitably a hard day at Disney. I don’t know anyone who wakes up that last morning excited to go home. Well, turns out I do. My wife. But she’s a weirdo. I’ve avoided discussing some of the tensions on the trip due to heat and unruly children. Let’s just say she hasn’t always shared my uber-enthusiasm for all things Disney and is definitely not a fan of my “go, go, go” attitude when we’re there. Something I try to remain cognizant of as much as possible, but sometimes my excitement gets the better of me.

    All day on Thursday I heard her mumbling “I can’t wait to get home and sleep in my own bed.” Which, yes, I get. The beds at Pop aren’t exactly the most luxurious. But again, that’s probably the difference between most men and women. I could sleep on a rock if tired enough. Have. Slept on a coffee table once, outside. Long story. Alcohol may or may not have been involved. Anyway . . .

    I woke up early, as usual. I’m not sure what time it was but I think the sun had just beaten me. I showered and snuck out of the room for a last turn around the property. We had done the bulk of our packing the night before. I filled my mug one last time. Yes, even that made me sentimental! I know it’s hokey but I kind of just walked around and said good bye to everything. The buildings, the pools, the bar. I nosed around the gift shop for the 18th time (not that there was anything new since they’d put out some Halloween stuff about halfway through our stay.)

    Sidebar: I have to admit the Vinylmation figurines perplexed me. Some are cool, some cute, and some just . . . eh. We’ll call them artistic. But I couldn’t quite justify the $10 price-tag per figure. Especially when you don’t even know which one you’re getting until it’s bought and paid for. And there’s a firm “no exchange or return” policy stamped on the box. I guess that’s part of the fun/challenge because then you have to trade, I suppose. There was a room a few doors down from us that was clearly into the Vinylmation phenomena as every day a new one appeared in their window sill. But I have to confess, every day my resistance to them began to wane a little. I went from “how stupid!” to “they are kinda neat” to “I kinda want a few.” Well, I never did buy a Vinylmation during our trip. Only because trying to justify spending $10 a little figurine that a.) I didn’t even know which one it was, and b.) I would leave in the box or on a shelf and my son would not be allowed to play with was just not something I had the strength or emotional fortitude to attempt.
    Sadly, the conclusion to this sidebar is a few weeks later I went bid-crazy on Ebay and I now have 5 Vinylmation figurines. Which, by the way I paid about an average of $12 each for. Guess I should have bit the bullet while I was there and could’ve saved about $10. By the way I have 2 Penny Machine figures, if anybody would like to trade. I also scored the exclusive D23 figure from the Anaheim convention that took place the week after we got back. So I’m pretty pleased about that. Anyway . . .

    So I slowly made my way back to the room. Said goodbye to the giant Mickey phone (who was getting a fresh coat of paint the whole week), and the Big Wheel, and the Foosball players, et all. I also took a walk across the Generation Gap bridge to take a last look at the Legendary Years building. Or what’s left of it anyway. They tried planting enough trees to hide it, but there it is, surrounded by tall grass and weeds. An empty shell. It’s really creepy. Ironically when I told Joe about it, he had the same mental image it gave me when I actually saw it the first time – the abandoned resort building in the Jurassic Park 2. And it literally looks like Raptors will come screeching out at any moment. Just a big yellowed building with giant unpainted numbers across the front and old dirty windows. I’m really surprised they’ve even left it, if their never going to finish it. Of course, with Disney no good idea is ever allowed to die. I know rumors sprout up all the time that they’re going to finish that other side. For all I know it’s on the docket right now, but only time (no pun intended) will tell.

    I got back to the room just as Joe, Ashley, and Abby were getting ready to go. They had an earlier flight back to Chicago than we did. So we said our goodbyes and raided their fridge. After Wendy and Sean got ready and we kind of foraged to pull a breakfast together consisting of Pop-Tarts, Oreos, grapes, yogurt, Gatorade, and chocolate milk. I had called to see about getting an extended check-out but no such luck, however I will say the gentleman I spoke to at the baggage desk (whose name I actually wrote down and now can’t find) was exemplary! He was everything you expect from a Disney Cast Member. Super friendly, super empathetic (not that ours was some major issue but still), and just immediately forthcoming with help. He had someone at our door with a bag cart in minutes. We checked our bags quickly. I called Air Tran (my new favorite airline) and paid for our bags ahead of time (the downside of Air Tran, but many other airlines as well).

    We hadn’t really decided where we were going yet. We kind of decided to let fate determine it for us. The first bus to roll up was to Hollywood Studios so we decided to hop on, especially since it’s a short ride. Just as we got to the park Wendy said “we could’ve gone back to Epcot.”

    In the words of Homer Simpson, “DOH!!!”

    Destiny lends a hand though, as we both forgot there is a fairy that runs from DHS to Epcot, by way of the Swan & Dolphin, Beach & Yacht Clubs, and Boardwalk. In all our trips we’ve never done this. And I’m always up for a boat ride. So we hustled over to the dock just before the boat was to leave. I will be honest, it was a beautiful day and normally I would have loved a leisurely cruise on a lagoon. The problem was we were on limited time here and that cruise is really leisurely. Too leisurely when you’re in a hurry. If you’re going to do this, do it in the middle of your trip when you’re not feeling the hands of time slipping away. Dramatic, ain’t I???

    Eventually we got to Epcot, via the International Gateway, or “backdoor.” There was barely anyone there, which helped. Or so I thought. There is just something wonderful about World Showcase. And to be honest I’ve rarely been on that side in the early part of the day. We almost always come in the main gate and work our way through Future World like most people. I told Wendy there was a photo shop right by Spaceship Earth (but of course she didn’t think I was right.) We decided to make a quick stop at The Land to check wait times for Soarin’ as well as to confirm whether Sean was tall enough. I also really wanted to ride Spaceship Earth. I have always loved this ride. Slow as some may think it is. It’s always the first thing I do at Epcot. It represents Epcot to me. Not just as the central icon it was designed to be, but the attraction as well. As we crossed into Future World, we found where all the people were. It was mobbed with people. I guess World Showcase seemed empty simply because it was still early and it hadn’t been open as long. We fought through the throngs of people going in and coming out of The Land pavilion.
    Sean was just tall enough, but the wait was like 30 minutes. We grabbed Fast Passes to come back in about 45 minutes or so figuring we could go handle the picture business and maybe even hop on Spaceship Earth and be back in time. We stopped by the information booth and asked where the nearest photo shop was. Guess where. Come on, guess! Right next to Spaceship Earth!!! I seem to recall someone saying that about a paragraph ago! As you can imagine my wife showered me with praise and apologies for doubting me at all . . .

    Anyway! Sadly, as we rounded the ol’ “golf ball” I saw that once again the line to Spaceship Earth was ungodly long. What the heck?!?! It’s September. It’s supposed to be dead. And that ride above all is always a walk-on. Apparently nobody told the crowds waiting in line that! We went into the shop and Wendy got in line. Yes, there was even a long line for assistance in there! Looks like we weren’t the only ones to remember they had a free photo coupon. After wasting time in the shop for a while, it became apparent I wasn’t going to be experiencing the S.E. refurb this trip. It was Sophie’s Choice, Epcot-style. Either Spaceship or Soarin’. And Fast Passes in hand are better than chancing a 35 minute wait in line. Plus, I mean, come on. It’s Soarin’. There’s really no choice.

    Sidebar: Inside that photo shop, there was a book that I really liked. I can’t remember the title, but it was just a picture book about Walt Disney World, with photos, descriptions, little tid-bits of history and info about all four parks. Very colorful and well put together. I’m seem to recall it was a hard cover, but could be wrong. It’s killing me that I didn’t get it, or even remember the title. I tried searching for it on the Shop.Disney website but no luck. I have a bad habit of seeing something, really wanting it, but thinking I don’t want to spend the money right now, and putting it down. Then kicking myself later. And in some cases buying them online later and paying more due to shipping. That said, if anybody can point me to someplace on line to get it, I’d appreciate it!

    After literally 20 minutes in the store, trying to keep my bored 2 & ½ year old from grabbing everything he could find, Wendy suggested I just take Sean to Soarin’. Our FP’s were coming up in 20 minutes and it was still going to be a while with this picture business. I checked her face to make sure this wasn’t a “it’s okay, . . . but not really” test. It wasn’t. In her world, pictures are more important than rides. We are so different. Once again, I kicked the stroller in gear and raced back over to The Land with Sean. It’s really a good thing Wendy told us to go ahead, because even with the passes, we still waited a good 15 – 20 minutes in line.
    The bad news is we got stuck in the back line. For those who may not know, that means we were going to be sat in the back row, which becomes the bottom when the seats lift up in the air. This is my least favorite position because you can see the feet dangling overhead from those above you, and if you let yourself, you can see the bottom of the screen. I’m one of those weirdoes that will obsess on little things when I watch a movie. If someone is talking during a preview, I spend the first 20 minutes worrying they’re going to talk in the movie too. If there’s a spot or tear on the screen, forget it. It’s all I’m watching for 90 minutes. Yes, I need help. I know.
    The good news is, Soarin’ is such a great experience that I easily block out the tennis shoes and flip-flops hanging out in front of me. And more importantly, I spent half the ride watching my son, who just couldn’t believe it. I would kill to know what it feels like for him. He doesn’t really know what’s happening. He just knows he’s flying over the ocean, and mountains, and forests. And he was loving it. Which just made me love it. The best part was the end when you arrive over Disneyland and he shouted out “Mickeyland!” It was like it didn’t even matter that we were in “Mickeyland.” That it was right outside the door. It was there in front of him and he was so happy. That’s living in the moment.

    The ride was just ending right at the time Wendy & I agreed to meet back by Spaceship Earth. I got the boy situated in his stroller and we high-tailed it back. The good news is I had her cell phone so I couldn’t get a “Where are you?” call! She was literally just walking out of the store when we got there. So once again, with a heavy heart I bid Epcot goodbye with a lot of unfinished business still on the table. I just had to remind myself once again that I’d be back. And next time I’d be sure we had a full day for Epcot . . . and that we’d eat at Le Cellier, however many Loonies I have to bribe the Maitre d’.

    We rode the shuttle back to Pop one last time and got our baggage. Sean busied himself the with giant foam LEGO-like bricks out front again. I started to take a few last pics of the resort to show everyone. Wendy said “Get one of the sign” and just as I was stepping out onto the roundabout, the Magical Express came rolling around the corner. I have to tell you all, I was really, really sad to be leaving. I sulked onto the bus and gazed reflectively out the window all the way to airport. I’m really like the kid leaving Disney World.
    Not much else to tell. The flight was on-time, the air crew friendly, and we got home pretty much on time. One of my best friends, in fact you could say two of my best friends eloped to Jamaica this summer and this night we returned they were having a wedding reception. I was honored with the task of giving a speech. The problem was I had about an hour & a half to get my family home from the airport, change clothes, and get to the hall. I spent the flight going over what I was going to say, but my thoughts kept slipping back to WDW.
    Of course we got back to Chicago and traffic was gridlocked, but they waited for me, and I got there not too terribly late. My speech killed, by the way.

    So that’s it. I've probably left out a thousand little details, but I'm sure you'll forgive me. What I do know is this trip just flew by way too fast.

    I also know it left a big impact on me, as far as career, direction, etc. Disney magic can really change lives, I truly believe it. In fact I have proof. The last time my wife and I went, we were just two. In fact, one night on that trip we were sitting on a bench outside the Rose & Crown at Epcot watching all the families. She sensed the same thing I was feeling and said “you know, the next time we come here, we really ought to have a kid with us.” Truth is we had all but given up on having a family. It had been a couple years and no luck. Then a month after that same Disney trip, we found out she was pregnant. Uncle Walt sprinkled a little pixie dust on us.
    I’m still waiting to see what residual magic will come of this last trip. If nothing else, the memories and the feelings are more than enough.

    I should reiterate, to all those who said to me “oh, your son’s still too young” or “he won’t really get it,” Sean asks me, literally, every day, multiple times, “Daddy, we go back to Mickeyland? We ride Splash Mountain?”

    He got it.

  9. #24
    HauntedGabe's Avatar
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    The End. Thank you! Great Trip report! Can't wait for you to go again.


    As for the book at Epcot. I'd make a thread and describe it there. So many members collect Disney Books and they are likely to know the name.

  10. #25
    CaptainFiz13's Avatar
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    YOU can't wait?!?!?

    ha ha!

    Thanks HauntedGabe!

    For the record I wrote that last segment weeks ago, and Sean still asks every day when we're going back!!! That and Kiddieland, but you know what's become of that place . . .


  11. #26
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    Re: My long over-due return (and son's first trip) to the World: Pop Century, 9/6 - 9

    Ya, I heard KiddieLand was going to become the latest KiddieLand.

    KiddieLand and Adventure Land along with Santa's Village were my young years until Disney World. My kids did the reverse, Disney first then the others, except Adventure Land, it departed years ago. Have you taken your son to Pirates Cove in the summer months in Elk Grove? It is excellent for little tykes. It is near my folks home and my kids went all the time when they were little.

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