Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009 - COMPLETED
Sizzling Summer Family Vacation
When: July 19 – August 3, 2009
Who: Joe, 38
Where: Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village 1 Bedroom DVC Rental
Polynesian Resort Garden View
Offsite Villa Rental in Clermont on Hwy 22
Photos: 2009 Walt Disney World - a set on Flickr
July 19, 2009
Joe’s got this 1986 Monte Carlo SS that he rescued many years ago. The car had been standing with the front and back windshields broken out, in the open, for a couple of years. It had water in it, leaves, dirt, you name it. It was messed up.
After a year of building it a new hot rod engine with some friends at Accurate Machine in Newport, DE,(http://www.accuratepower.com/Machine) redoing the interior, new glass, paint, transmission… I’m not sure what’s not new on that thing!... he’s got a car that makes men do double-takes like they just saw a naked lady going down the road. And it seems to have some sort of pull on middle aged waitresses.
The “mission” for this beast was of course always to drive it around the Walt Disney World resort. This was supposed to happen when Joe and I moved down there, so he could teach aerobatics in WWII restored planes and I could write best selling novels. Since neither of us seems to be able to figure out how to live on those things and love alone, we’re still stuck here in the Mid Atlantic region, with no set date in sight for moving to Orlando. If the Monte was going to wow them at the House of the Mouse anytime soon, it was going to have to be driven down there and back for a vacation.
Joe swore years ago he’d never drive to Disney again. He hates traffic, hates the drive home because it’s depressing to leave and driving just seems to drag it out. But the thought of being able to have his own car at Disney, especially since most of our trip was going to be off site, was alluring enough to make him give driving another try.
We debated a bit about how we thought Miles would fare on a long car trip. Would he be totally bored and drive us nuts with endless requests to pull off and go to Hooters (NO, I’m not taking him there), or would a new game for his Nintendo DS be enough to make him forget his cares. Would he even be able to sleep in the motel on the road? Would he talk nonstop? Well, that’s a given. He never stops vocalizing at home, either. We leaned towards Miles and I flying down to Orlando, while Joe drove down. At the end of the trip, Miles would be flying to visit his dad in New Orleans, LA, so I decided that Joe and I would drive home together after Miles’ flight departed.
I wondered a couple of times if we hadn’t wasted money on airfare, until Miles vomited the largest amount of vomit I’ve ever seen, all over the back seat of my car and himself a couple of weeks before the trip. It was like a message from God. Yes, you should fly. Not because it would be better to have vomit all over an airplane than my car, but vomit all over Joe’s Monte would be… well, I don’t think it would get a rational response from Joe. Miles, by the way, is an upchuck generalist. Excited? Urp. Scared? Urp. Ate too fast? Urp. Strep throat? Urp. Then there’s the mystery sit up straight in bed in the middle of the night and vomit, with no apparent cause, no upset stomach afterward, no ensuing illness. This has been going on since he was two years old. We have a family ruling that we will not take him to Hawaii like he keeps begging us to until there have been no incidences of mystery vomiting for at least three consecutive years. No, there’s nothing wrong with him. Yes, it’s gross. No, it doesn’t happen that often anymore. Yes, he’s seen a doctor. No, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mother. I think. Everyone knows any time anything bad happens to anyone, somebody’s mother is to blame.
Sunday, July 19 was departure day for Joe. He chose to leave in the late evening, around 8 p.m., and spend the night in Kenly, North Carolina. He said he was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Econo Lodge room I booked him. He expected worse. He had no trouble checking in around 1:30 a.m. He successfully avoided all the Washington, DC traffic mess. Driving is pure **** between Richmond, VA and just north of Washington, DC. Going through there at 10 p.m. you’re likely to find just heavy traffic instead of an impassable wall of wreck after wreck. Of course, we didn’t take into account that every road in Virginia might be closed down to one lane at night in the summer time, but more on that later. Joe didn’t hit any lane closures headed south on I-95, anyways.
Back at home, I set to packing for Miles’ and my flight out of BWI the next morning, and tried to get some sleep.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Monday, July 20
What was I thinking… Miles and I didn’t fly out today, we still had a whole day at home, while Joe finished his drive. I think I blocked it out because it was torture. Torture! Joe got to his hotel in the early evening and called me. I’m in Kissimmee. OK, rub it in.
I booked Joe a room at the Comfort Suites Maingate on West 192 in Kissimmee, at his insistence. I kept trying to steer him to a place on Palm Parkway, but he insisted that would be too hard to find. He did have me look up Disney’s All Stars on Expedia just to see if a room was available, and it was, for just a little more than the cost of the surrounding offsite places we were considering. I told him no way. You’re not staying on property without me. The jealousy would eat me up inside and it would destroy our marriage.
Like I mentioned, he calls me when he gets into the room. I ask him, are you going out to do anything fun? No, I’m just staying in here with the doors locked, he replies. Say, what? That’s not like him. He’d normally be off to at least Downtown Disney that early in the evening.
He explains that when he pulled up to the Comfort Suites Maingate, which, by the way, has a website that tells you it’s in Trip Advisor’s Top 15 and has all sorts of awards, he notices a couple of highly made-up ladies in scanty clothing and high heels leaning against the building. When he came back outside after check-in, they were both leaning in the window of a big black BMW with tinted-out windows, discussing something. Then they got in.
On his way to his room, Joe was warned several times, on things handed to him at check-in, and on posted signs, that management would not be responsible for damage to or theft of vehicles in the parking lot.
These things had spooked him to the point where he’s sure now that all of Hwy 192 is the domain of hookers, car thieves, vandals and other things that go bump in the night. I tried to be sympathetic in between laughing so hard I cried. I mean, I know off site hotels are having a hard time in the recession, but really, I didn’t expect hearing this.
Now it was my turn to get Joe to commiserate with me. Miles’ behavior today was the pits. Arguing, not doing what he was asked to do, being obnoxious. I had to put him in time out like three times today. Often, when he’s overly excited, he has trouble controlling his behavior, so it wasn’t really a surprise. And Joe’s become the Heavy in our little blended family, so with him gone, it was like “Party Time” in Miles’ little mind. Nope. Go sit in time out. Come tell me what you did. “Arguing.” Nope. Go sit in time out. Come tell me what you did. “Arguing.” That kid wore me out today.
But we’re packed!
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Tuesday, July 21
Start the Party – Grumpy’s Here - Part One
Flying is uncomfortable and annoying. I remember when I was a kid, I’d get all dressed up to fly. It was so exciting! I’d get a deck of cards from the stewardess, little plastic golden wings to pin to my dress from the pilot. Nowadays I feel exhausted, dirty and battered when I finally get where I’m going. Between the flying and Miles and – I have to admit to it, I have to be honest – PMS, I was g-r-u-m-p-y when I landed in Orlando today.
I called Joe and told him we’d arrived. First I wanted to get some new Crocs for Miles, as he’d outgrown his pair from our 2007 trip. The airport store was very low on selection for older kids, but we lucked out and found one pair in Miles’ new size that was a color he liked – sunshine yellow! This is what I get for dressing my son in muted earth tones his whole life. He’s hopelessly attracted to outfits that look like Spin Art.
Got myself a pair of brown sandals that nobody can tell are Crocs from any kind of distance. Muted. Earth tones. Joe teases me about the amount of brown clothing I have.
Joe met us inside the terminal, having decided to park instead of driving around in circles. He didn’t want anyone to scratch his car so he parked out on the open deck where there were no other cars around him, and no reason for anyone to drive by. It was only parked there for about 20 minutes, but it was hotter than the surface of the sun inside. Black car in Florida in July = toasty.
We all like Popeye’s fried chicken and the ones up here are mostly terrible, so it’s a treat for us to get some in Orlando. I’d carefully picked out the best one for us to get to, on S. Orange Blossom Trail. We always take the Greenway in towards Disney, so it would be convenient.
Joe somehow missed the turn out of the airport tangle of roadways, and we found ourselves headed out on 528 instead of the Greenway. Joe decided to go for it, and we ended up trying to find the Popeye’s on W Sand Lake Rd. Even though that was on the opposite side of Disney property from Animal Kingdom Lodge, our next stop. After some debating about where we were and how to get there, which prompted Miles to say, “Mom, you’re arguing,” we got there. The food was worth it. I’m trying to eat healthy nowadays - high fiber, organic, lots of fruits and vegetables, mostly all home cooked. But man oh man. Love that chicken from Popeye’s.
Now it was time to head to the resort. Joe had been asked to go earlier today to Shades of Green and purchase discounted park tickets for all of us. I carefully researched exactly what we’d need from Allearsnet.com, and wrote down for him that he’d need to buy 3 “Magic Your Way Premium Tickets” that expire 14 days from first use. In the car now, he says, “Oh, when I bought those tickets, they’d never heard of the ones you said to get, so I got these other ones the lady told me were the closest, they’re Stars and Stripes or something, take a look at them, if they’re no good she said we can come back and exchange them.”
They were a promotion that as Department of Defense civilians, not enlisted, I didn’t even know we qualified for. They were cheaper than what I wanted, with all the same features – 10 days of admission, water parks and Disney Quest, hopping. BUT they expired in 10 days. All of it. We were there for two weeks. No good.
So now we have to go back to Shades of Green. Went there, parked, walked in. Miles loved the look of the resort and said he’d like to stay there sometime. We went down and talked to a guy at the ticket counter who seemed very unsure that he should allow us to trade these tickets in, but finally took them and started fixing it all for us. The chart they had indeed contained no mention of anything called a “Premium” ticket. Whatever.
Disney and their tickets wear me out. Memorizing all the details of Disney ticketing, the ever changing dining plan, and Magical Express, to the point where you can help people plan vacations, requires a level of commitment and study that I’m not willing to undertake. My stubborn refusal to acquire this knowledge is the number one reason I’m no use anymore answering Disney trip planning questions. I just don’t want to know. Plus, I’m likely to tell people the local Publix grocery stores deli selections are superior to the majority of Disney restaurants. People don’t want to hear that when they’ve already bought the dining plan.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Tuesday, July 21
Start the Party – Grumpy’s Here - Part Two
Tickets fixed, we’re now about 90 minutes behind my schedule. You know I had a schedule. Potty breaks were probably on it somewhere. Now we were not following it. Did I mention I had PMS? We pulled up to the Kidani Village portico at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Joe said yes, we’d like a bellman. NO, I said, knowing that as usual neither of us had remembered to go to an ATM machine and get any cash for this trip, so I knew we had nothing to tip him with. YES, Joe says and after they load up the cart, and the guy is gone, I tell Joe, you have no cash, and he basically tells me to knock it off and stop being so grumpy, he’ll figure it out. I evidently have been arguing. But I’m not going in time out, I’m going to check in.
All I wanna do is get into the room and take a shower, change clothes, sit down. We get our room keys, go up to the room and before we call for the bags decide to take a quick look around. We were all the way at the end of the trail that’s closest to the Jambo House, away from the pool. That kind of bummed me out at first, but ended up being very convenient for parking directly under our building, right by the elevator.
The unit was outstanding. Absolutely lovely. Big kitchen. Full separate bathroom for Miles off the living room. Pull out sofa and chair in the living room. Big beautiful view of the savannah from the living room and bedroom. King bed, high off the floor and heavily carved. The master bathroom – oh joy of my heart. What a bathroom. It’s as big as a whole room at the All Stars, I swear. Enormous balcony, which we all ran out to, to see the savannah. OK, now it’s time to call for our bags.
We turn around to go back inside, and the sliding glass door we’d come through is shut. Tight. We pull on it. Won’t budge. We yank on it… nope, totally locked. Other doors to the living room, same story, locked. We’re locked on the balcony. The sun is setting now, and starting to beat in on us. We have no water. We have no food. We discuss Joe pretending to climb over the railing so security cameras might pick him up and send the Mickey Police running to our room. Thankfully, a lady below us just happens to be home on her balcony and can hear us. “Are you locked out?” she asks, and then offers to call the front desk for us. We’ve at this point dropped all our room keys and paperwork inside the front door when we came in, and aren’t sure what our room number is. We guess.
It took about 15 minutes for someone to come, but come she does. She can’t get the door from the bedroom out to us open for a few seconds, either, but finally throws some kind of latch from inside. We tried to recreate how it could have locked on us, and after several tries succeeded. I wonder how many other people this is happening to? Every door in the place is the same, I’m sure, so if can happen once, you’d think it will happen again. Maybe we’re just special.
OK now I’m not only grouchy, embarrassed about being grouchy, dirty, tired and have PMS, I’ve been actually scared there for a few minutes.
If there ever was a woman in need of a Jacuzzi bathtub fit for a Queen, it was I. And there it was, waiting for me. Before I disappeared into bathing bliss, Miles had a look at the bathroom. He said, “Ewww! That bathroom’s terrible!” Why, Miles? “The shower’s so you can see anybody in there, naked!” Joe replies, “And that’s a bad thing because…?” To which Miles, after thinking about for a second, responds with renewed vigor, “Ewww!”
That bathtub. The bathtub. My bathtub. I loved it so. That bathtub is on my top 5 list for this entire vacation. Too bad I only used it twice. I should have just stayed in there for a few days. First of all, it was huge. Yes, Joe and I could both get in it. (Miles, sotto voce, “Ewww!”) Second, it was shaped just perfectly. Know how sometimes your knees don’t fit, you slide down too much, your elbows are cramped, in these things? Not in this one. So deep, and jets so actually well-placed with water pressure just perfect for hitting major muscle groups. Filled quickly, too. I’ve never been in a finer bathtub.
I got myself clean and fluffy and Joe got clean and fluffy and everybody changed clothes, had a beverage from the recently delivered luggage and Owner’s Locker stash we brought along with us, and I was starting to feel human again.
I normally steer clear of evening Extra Magic Hours, but I like Animal Kingdom’s because the lighting design in the park is really worth seeing after dark. It was open tonight until 11 p.m. The original schedule was only until 10 p.m. but to my delight the hours had been extended since I last looked.
Joe actually agreed to ride a Disney bus instead of driving, which is unheard of. But really it’s so freaking close, how bad could it be, going from Kidani to AK? It was a very quick ride. Miles had his new Crocs, I had my new Crocs, I was ready to show off my special red and white polka dot “Minnie Mouse” pedicure I'd got done a couple of days before back home, and we were ready to roll.
Got into the park about 7 p.m., just as the afternoon light was starting to lengthen. Miles wanted to hit Dinosaur first. I was still a little grouchy - probably blame it all on my hormones at that point – middle age is so much fun – but a cast member at Dinosaur was fooling around with everyone, cracking jokes, being upbeat and energetic and he really lifted my mood. Cast members make the place, don’t they? Who thinks their pay should start at $10/hour, raise your hand.
No more McDonald’s food at Animal Kingdom. It’s all crappy Disney food service at Restaurantosaurus now. I can’t believe I miss McDonald’s, but there you go. It was far superior to what they’ve replaced it with. $30 for bad burgers and nuggets and fries, that we didn’t even really want (where are the salads and veggies, people?) and no thank you. I love the theming in Restaurantosaurus, but never again. The food was so bad nobody wanted to finish it. We might as well have lit $30 on fire.
For some reason, there were drunk people in here tonight. Joe saw one guy getting into it with his girlfriend, who finally smacked him, and I saw some young people staggering around being really loud. Where’s all the alcohol coming from? Are there beer carts here? Is Disney World the new Old Town for the locals?
Miles wanted to shop in the Dinorama gift shop, but the giant sign that stated it featured cold AC was just tourist bait. There was no air conditioning in there at all, and it was so uncomfortable I didn’t want to set foot in there, much less hang out and shop.
We took a turn on Triceratops Spin, and after checking out the action over at Primeval Whirl Miles decided he was not interested in being tossed around that much, so we did Triceratops Spin a second time.
We got on Dinosaur a second time, and then headed to Flame Tree BBQ area to check out the view. This is one of my favorite spots in all of WDW. Especially at night. I like the pavilions down on the water, the best. Great place to sit and rest, and check out the lights. It’s deserted after the Flame Tree stops serving for the day.
After some debating about how to best get on Everest, we opted for the single rider line. Miles is too chicken still to get on this one. It took almost no time at all to ride, single rider line was very quick. Joe rode it twice. I bought a wonderful brass bell in the gift shop. They have a new Fair Trade area with hand made goods from Nepal, and good books and cd’s about the region. Check it out! I love it when Disney merchandises quality handicrafts, and I hope people keep buying it so they keep selling it. There were brass bells, wind chimes, purses, shirts, scarves, and I can’t remember what all else, but it was a very nice selection.
Took forever to buy my bell – Disney needs more cashiers in the gift shops. Towards the end of the trip, I decided not to buy anything a few times because I was sick of the lines for the registers. Times that by how many visitors per day, and tell me you’re saving money by not staffing all your registers.
We let Miles play some Dinorama games where he won the same two dinos and then he’d had enough. Rode Dinosuar again because three time’s a charm, and then it was 11 p.m. and the park was closed.
Everyone was hungry so we hit IHOP on 192. Their whole grain pancakes with fresh fruit and sugar free syrup were really good, and they made my body feel good after a day of eating junk.
We were able to park right under our room, practically, with just a few steps to the elevator close by our door. Least amount of walking I’ve ever done, at a Disney resort, to get from my car to my room, outside of the Ft. Wilderness Cabins and Old Key West.
Made up Miles’ pull out bed for him, and by 2 a.m. we were all asleep.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 22
Magic Kingdom Here I Come! - Part One
Woke up before anyone else, which is normal. I made some coffee in the kitchen, hoping not to wake Miles up on his pull-out chair. The coffee makers for the new kitchens here at Kidani Village have safety power cords that are about 3” long. This means that you can’t open the lid to pour water into the unit if it’s plugged in, because the cabinets hanging over the counter are rather low. So you have to unplug it, move it forward, pour in the water, move it back and plug it in.
Other than that, the kitchen was great. Lots of pans, dishwasher was powerful, good stove, huge microwave, and not just a full size fridge but a BIG full size fridge. I do wish they would give you more dishwashing detergent, that’s kind of cheesy that they don’t. We’ve found those little liquid-in-a-pouch brands are a good thing to keep in our Owner’s Locker. I would be afraid powdered stuff would clump, stored over time.
I opened the curtains to the living room and Miles still didn’t wake up. With my iced coffee to my right and a view of the savannah to my left, I did about 15 minutes of yoga. I think taking time to do yoga when I’m here, every morning and evening, makes a huge difference in how my body fares with all the standing and walking. Disney is truly a fitness challenge for those of us who are heavy, sedentary, or injured. I’m really thankful I have Disney vacations in my life to motivate me to watch my fitness level. It’s one of the only things that does motivate me successfully.
Miles finally stirred and wanted to go somewhere right away. I snuck into the bedroom and got dressed without waking Joe up. I got all our gear together and on. Our summer gear includes crocs on our feet, quick-dry shorts, light weight preferably sleeveless cotton shirts, I like a hat, camelback hydration packs, park passes, my driver’s license, sunglasses, a battery-powered mini fan to share, and Miles’ pin trading lanyard. And plenty of sunscreen.
After years of looking for a sunscreen I don’t hate, I’m thrilled to report I finally found one! I’m in love with Neutrogena Age Shield Face Sunblock SPF 70. Didn’t sting, run, smell funky or feel gross, and it worked beautifully. I went down on this trip with a brand new 3 oz tube, and still had 1/3 of the tube left when we came home. Excellent stuff.
We went down to the Kidani bus stop. I’ve heard that since Kidani Village was newly-opened (open for about two months at this point, I think), it wasn’t anywhere near full, and I did note the bus stops and the pool were delightfully uncrowded during our stay. I wonder how it will be when the resort is full?
Our first stop at the Magic Kingdom was the pin store on Main St. Miles cannot, for some reason, wear a lanyard. Every pin down towards the bottom eventually works free of its back and falls off! I know there are “locking backs” but his goal is to trade, so that would really be a pain if we had to take extra time to get them off. I asked him if he’d be up for carrying a book around instead, warning him that meant HE carries it, not me. He agreed that would be better, so we stopped into the pin store and bought a small trading binder. Looked around at pins, but didn’t see anything we wanted.
While we were in there, I talked to a cast member up at the jewelry counter about fine jewelry selections. I’ve been looking for years for 14K dangle leverback earrings in a fairly large size, and they never have anything like that. Oh well, if they did, I’m sure they would cost 300% more than the same amount of gold would anywhere else, and I wouldn’t be able to afford them.
The new Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! street parade came by and made it completely impossible to carry on a conversation. That thing is LOUD. It happens several times per day, and between it and the castle forecourt show, there’s now very little time that Main St. and the hub aren’t awash in blaring amplified noise. It’s really a bit much, not relaxing at all.
I’d made an ADR for the Plaza Restaurant for myself and Miles, but we were about 40 minutes late for it. I stopped in at the podium just to see if it would still be possible to eat, and they seated us within five minutes. We had the best Disney meal of the trip here, today. Miles swears their grilled cheese is the best he’s ever tasted, and I’ve never had anything here that wasn’t delicious, from burgers to salads to sandwiches. My one disappointment was they took their potato salad off the menu. The wait staff here are excellent – they seem to be long-time cm’s.
While we were eating, the Mayor and his Wife came in to give people at the table next to us a certificate and free dessert for being the restaurant’s 1,000th guest, or something like that. They were really good! A guest at another table quipped, “How about a free dessert for everyone?” To which the Mayor replied, “Everyone gets a fork.” His character is channeling WC Fields, but softer.
After lunch, the Dapper Dans were playing outside the ice cream stand and Miles was intrigued. He’s seen them before, but I don’t think he remembers it. He wanted to stay and watch them for about three songs, and then he’d had enough.
I asked him what he’d like to do next, and it was Buzz but it had too long a wait, so he opted for Carousel of Progress. “Mom, I really like seeing all that progress over the century with all the stuff in the kitchens.” I wish they’d put out a good pin for this attraction, I’d buy it.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 22
Magic Kingdom Here I Come! - Part Two
Laugh Floor was on my agenda but Miles didn’t feel like waiting in line for the next show, so we decided to walk over to Adventureland. We went via the back of the castle, one of my favorite routes. Passing the Fairytale Garden, I never knew Belle has bouncers! It cracked me up to see a line of four cm’s, facing out to the walkway, arms folded, legs spread in a karate stance, poised to stop excited four year olds from storming storytime.
Miles was all hot to do the Jungle Cruise, and I took the opportunity of being there sans queue-hating hubby to wait in Standby so I could enjoy the audio track in here. We had a great time listening, and the tarantula in the crate right at the loading point got me! I poked my finger in there, to play with Miles, pretending to say “oh no, he’s gonna bite me,” and then the thing actually rears up and the whole crate shakes. That’s entertainment.
Don’t remember a thing about the cruise. I wish they had Equity skippers, that would be awesome.
After Jungle Cruise Joe called and said he was up and at ‘em, and would come meet us at Pirates. That left Miles and I enough time to go see Hall of Presidents with the new film and Obama figure.
I’ve never seen so many people in the Hall of Presidents! It was packed, though I think not to capacity, quite. The host here, who I’ve seen in action before, actually told the audience off when they wouldn’t be quiet for his presentation about the Seal in the middle of the waiting room. Stunned, everyone quieted down.
The new narration is much more interesting and compelling than the old show. Kudos. I have to admit I cried, and then I look over, and Miles is crying, too! The applause at the end from the audience was loud and long. I think Disney’s made a real hit out of an old & tired attraction.
Time to meet up with Joe at Pirates. How Not to Meet Your Party 101: Walk past the place where you’ve been told to meet your party, at about a distance of 20 yards, and scan for them very briefly. When you don’t immediately see them, leave and go get a snack. When your party calls you and asks you where you are, state you couldn’t find them. Saunter back as you finish your snack and act surprised to see your party, right where they said they would be, and have been waiting now for a while.
We had a great ride on Pirates. Miles declared it his favorite attraction, now supplanting Carousel of Progress, I guess!
We needed to get back to resort, to meet the mighty Paragon for dinner at Sanaa. I wanted to leave enough time to take a shower and change, but the shops on Main St. ****ed us in. Miles got lost from us somehow, and Joe had to go up to the end and back down again to locate him. By the time we got back to our home away from home we only had 10 minutes to change and we just made it to the lobby on time to meet Paragon.
The restaurant was fairly empty, only about half full, though it was early. It has a great view of the savannah. We were there for a long time, I think over an hour, talking and trying three courses of stuff. I was worried Miles would get too restless but the wonderful podium staff here kept him entertained. They took him on a hidden Mickey hunt, after he asked if there were any nearby. Our waitress was wonderful, too, discussing with Miles at length what the chocolate cake did and did not contain, the intensity of its raspberry filling, the quantity of said filling, whether or not he was likely to enjoy it in spite of this raspberry intrusion, and what their contingency would be if he indeed could not tolerate the raspberriness of it all. (He liked it.)
The best part of my meal was the appetizer. I got an appetizer sampler to split among us, and the samosas were outstanding. They were not quite traditionally prepared, but they were very good.
Sanaa does not have traditional Indian food. It’s more neuvo-Indian. I think I would go back, but probably I would try to hit it for lunch for lower prices and simpler entrees. Or maybe just eat appetizers! They were so good.
After dinner we went out to the lobby’s overlook and Miles talked to a cm for a while about the animals. We took Paragon back up to see the room, and she wasn’t impressed with the bath tub, having seen I think the inside of these kind of tubs on her side job as a home inspector, and being convinced that they are all full of disgusting gunk back in their jets. This tub was new, so hopefully I didn’t catch anything from it.
We spent some time sitting on our balcony. For some reason, there aren’t enough chairs for how many people the unit sleeps, but Miles got bored quickly with our adult yakking and went inside to immerse himself in his Nintendo DS. After a while, Paragon realized it was getting on towards her bedtime and she had something to do the next morning, so we said our goodbyes.
I was a bit disappointed with our room location, #5460, on the fifth floor, all the way at the far end away from the Kidani Village’s pool, until we realized at 10 p.m. that we had a full and perfect view of Wishes over the Magic Kingdom! What a treat.
I got a second, and sadly last, soak in the tub, and we all went to bed.
In the middle of the night, Joe and I were abruptly woken up by a sudden loud, vigorous banging vibration, almost like an alarm. It was the metal cover over the air return in our bedroom, rattling against the wall. Some kind of harmonic frequency had taken hold of it and set it off. Joe pushed on it, banged on it, and it stopped. OK, back to sleep.
Sometime later, it does it again. Joe bangs on it, pushes on it, it stops. Nothing else woke us up that night, and we all slept in until mid morning the next day.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Thursday, July 23
Surprise Epcot Day
We didn’t get up until mid-morning today. More yoga and iced coffee for me, and then a shower and I think we all didn’t get up and out of there until almost noon.
I thought we’d do Animal Kingdom today, but everybody felt like going over to Epcot. Probably not the best idea, since tonight was an evening Extra Magic Hours night, and it made the park extremely crowded. We managed to dodge most of them by doing less popular things, but it was a little tiring, especially trying to eat and use the restrooms.
We drove, of course, and the parking lot wasn't that full. All the crowds were from on-site guests, today, coming in for EMH, I'm sure.
We went straight to the Land pavilion and signed up for the Behind the Seeds Tour. I figured Miles was old enough to enjoy it, and his growing interest in biology would get fed. Our tour time wasn’t for another 40 minutes, so we rode the boat and had a snack in the food court.
Our tour lasted way longer than the listed time of 60 minutes. We were on the tour for almost two hours! The guide did ask us if anyone had anywhere to be, before she dawdled with us so much.
We got more in-depth information on this tour than the one I took back in May of 2007. This guide told us about which plants had to be hand pollinated, what had to be cleaned and how and when, etc.
Miles got to feed their tank of tilapia, but he gave his ladybugs to another guest to release for him. Guess he didn’t want bugs crawling on him! I don’t think entomology is going to be his major.
After the tour we got Miles some disgusting nuggets at Electric Umbrella. It was beyond crowded in there, and loud, but the upstairs overlook is a reasonably nice place to rest for a while and people-watch.
We headed for Mexico for a ride on El Rio del Tiempo con el Pato, and then – let the shopping begin!
I never, ever, ever “head for the mall” or call QVC up or order anything from the catalogs that flood our home. When I buy something, it’s been planned, thought about for a while, and researched for the best deal. Except at Disney. Disney World is the one place we shop. We came home with a lot of stuff, I have to admit, from this trip. We didn’t eat at expensive places, but every cent we saved on food we spent on merchandise. Epcot is our favorite place to indulge. We have many things in our house that are from various World Showcase pavilions.
We decided to do our master bathroom up like a Mexican fiesta, so we bought a bouquet of paper flowers and a paper banner for up at the top of the wall. Then I got myself a pair of nice silver and gemstone earrings, that after I was wearing them for a day Joe noticed there’s a tiny yellow hidden Mickey in one of the stones! Too cool.
Also got a bag of corn chips that was the best most amazing corn chips I’ve ever tasted. They were flavored with lime, and were very thick and crunchy. I’m looking all over the internet and cannot find them. I wish I’d written down the name, or saved the wrapper!
On the way out, Joe finally talked me into spending a lot of money on a Oaxacan wood carving. Our friend Paragon, who would know, says the folks there doing that stand are the "real thing," and we have always admired their work. We purchased one of the two large cactus sculptures they had on hand. It took the girl minding the stand and doing the painting about twenty minutes to wrap it all up, it was so intricate. It's currently gracing our bedroom dresser, though we intend to give it a more honorable place someday. There's a photo of it in my flickr photo link at the top of the trip report.
Next we picked up a Norway fastpass for Maelstrom and we continued on to Japan. Miles was begging to do Kim Possible today, but I wanted to spend time at the resort since it was our last day at AKL and we’d barely been there, so I asked him to hold off for couple days.
Joe and I ate at Yakitori House. I was really hot, we all were, when we arrived, and we were looking forward to sitting down inside in the air conditioning to eat. Sadly, it was fairly warm inside. After lunch, we shopped for an hour in Mitsukoshi and it was warm in there, also. Not like the a/c was broken, but it was definitely not set any lower than the mid to high 70’s. In a crowded public place with doors opening and closing, that’s just not enough to cool you off if you are coming in from the heat. Other shoppers were noticing it, too, so it wasn’t just us.
We still bought a bunch of stuff, including bath salts, incense, tea, plush Pokemon dolls for Miles (this is why we were in here so long – he changed his mind a zillion times about which three to choose) and I got a wallet.
I wanted to get out of here now, as evening was approaching and I really wanted to see Wishes from our balcony again, and swim in our pool for the first and only time. On the way out of the park we rode Maelstrom with our fastpasses and then Spaceship Earth.
Remember when you got in the ride vehicle in Spaceship Earth, and started up the hill, how the air conditioning used to blast you dry? It’s hotter than heck in there, with dead air, now.
I’m all for being green, but in the past, coming during the summer was made bearable by the extreme a/c inside the attractions, shops and restaurants. If they aren’t going to help me get my core temperature down then I can’t see how I can comfortably tour WDW in the summer heat again. We noticed this trend of warmer indoor temperatures throughout our vacation, with Epcot and Animal Kingdom being the biggest offenders. It really did add an extra layer of misery.
Back at the resort I took Miles over to Jambo House to the Mara for dinner. I had the BEST falafel I’ve ever had, no kidding! I’m sorry I only discovered this on our last night, or I would have had this for dinner every day. I would make a special trip for it. It was really spicy and flavorful, not burned or hard at all, but not mushy, just perfect. The pita bread was very high quality and whole-grain, and the produce served with it was ample and just so fresh and beautiful. The sauce was really good, too, not pasty or overly heavy, but light and fresh and tangy. I think it was the best thing I ate this trip.
Back at the room, Joe had gone to get a pizza off-property and he was back with it, munching down. It was almost time for Wishes now, so we watched that from our balcony.
Then we changed into our swim suits and headed out for a late night dip.
The Kidani pool is wonderful. The pool over at Jambo, just a couple of hours ago when Miles and I were over there eating, was a madhouse, but this pool was calm, quiet, and lovely. Very hot hot tub, and a great slide, which was officially closed, but a bunch of young twenty-something guys were walking up it and coming down. We of course we never do such a thing, especially not Joe and Miles. They would never have forty five minutes of serious fun doing such a dangerous, rude and terrible thing.
Bedtime came around midnight, which is normal for us. I packed a bit so tomorrow wouldn’t be such a race to get out of the room by check-out time. Miles cuddled up with his new Pokemon stuffed animals and watched some Disney Channel reruns. He’s a big Corey in the House fan.
I can’t believe how fast our three nights went, here. If I had anything I wanted, I would have spent our entire trip here. But it’s just way out of our price range. I think I have a reasonable way to afford DVC in fall of 2012, if all go well, and this experience did a lot to push me towards deciding to buy in. Well, the DVC annual pass discounts really are helping sell me, too. Hope they don’t disappear.
We’ll probably buy a 220 to 250 point resale at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, but I’m sure I’ll use points some day to come back to a Kidani 1 bedroom for a whole week.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Friday, July 24
One Night in Paradise
Time to check out of Animal Kingdom Lodge. Joe went from saying he doesn’t like this resort to putting it on his top 5 list of places to stay. I am a little concerned that our experience was nicer than it ever will be again, since only half of the resort was open while we were there, and that wasn’t booked fully.
I would dine at Sanaa again, preferably for lunch. I would definitely walk over to the Mara to get their fabulous food. I stayed at AKL in 2003 & 2004 and both times thought the Mara was the best food court on property, and I believe it still is! The pool on the Kidani Village side is much more to my liking than the giant, noisy, crowded pool at Jambo House. I would like to spend a day enjoying the pool and try out their snack bar for lunch.
We never did any of the resort activities for kids, or tours. We weren’t there long enough, or maybe it’s that we started here and just couldn’t keep ourselves out of the parks.
Our room was excellent, except for the air return vent cover, which again last night went off with a deafening noise level, and the mysteriously self-locking balcony doors which almost made vulture-food out of us. Just new building jitters, I suppose. We never tried to put the air vent cover back on last night, we just left it off, leaned against the wall, and I stuck a note to it.
The bus service was good, but we didn’t use it very often so I can’t say for sure how the addition of Kidani has affected AKL service overall.
Seeing Wishes from our balcony was awesome.
Now we were off to check into the Polynesian for one night. That’s right, one night.
Miles has been begging to stay here to swim in the volcano pool, for years. Joe and I have never shared a small hotel room with one bathroom and no privacy with him before, because we weren’t sure how comfortable we’d be. I know that’s how lots of other people travel to WDW, four to a room in two double beds for a week, but I think I’d be ready to kill everyone if I tried that.
Tonight was evening Extra Magic Hours night at the Magic Kingdom. I usually want to avoid these, but it was running until 2 a.m. today which I figured would give us at least 90 minutes of reasonable wait times at the very end of the evening.
We checked in around 11 a.m. and thank you lord they actually had a room ready for us. And it was RIGHT next to the Ceremonial House, in Raratonga. We couldn’t really afford anything beyond a Garden View, but we were thrilled with it. We were overlooking tiki torches, wonderful greenery, and the quiet pool. No balcony or patio, but I didn’t care. We intended to be out by the pool and then at the MK, all day.
The building was showing its age in the hallways, and the elevator, especially, was a tiny flash from the past. The room however was completely modern and shiny and new. Without a King bed, we decided Joe and I would each take our own Queen bed and Miles would sleep on the daybed. That worked out very well.
We changed into our suits and cover-ups and headed out to tour the resort and swim! It was stupid hot today, almost too hot to enjoy being outdoors. Miles’ solution was to just stay in the pool for about four hours. Joe and I were in for maybe an hour, here and there. Miles of course went down the slide over and over again. He lost count how many times.
I wanted to read my book on a lounge chair out on the beach, but the only shade was from palm trees towering overhead, and they were full of pooping birds! I ended up moving to an umbrella table and chairs, but the area wasn’t particularly clean, and it wasn’t on sand, and there were plants blocking any breeze that might have come so it was really hot even in the shade. Kind of a disappointing experience. I would have enjoyed the quiet pool area, more, but there was no way Miles was going to get pried away from the Volcano pool.
Joe left to go get a pizza and I got lunch for myself and Miles from Captain Cooks. I heard the food here is much better than in the past, even good, but that wasn’t my experience. It’s gone from gross to barely passable. Still, it’s convenient.
Towards the end of the afternoon we decided to head out for a ride on the lakes in a Whaler. The cm manning the dock warned Joe that the engine is governed, which we know all too well. We still managed to get going fast enough to get a little bit of a breeze. The sun was ridiculous this afternoon, almost to the point where I didn’t enjoy myself, but I always feel that way on boats. I’m not into being out in the sun too much, and I don’t like constant wind, so I’m not much of a boater. Boating is more Joe’s thing.
Coming back around the old Discovery Island in Bay Lake, our motor started cutting out. Probably some water in the fuel line. Joe had to pull back on the throttle the rest of the way in. When he docked the cm’s were, as usual, impressed with his boating skills. They’re always surprised he knows how to dock. Joe’s dream retirement job at WDW is running the boats. Or changing light bulbs on the night shift.
Dinner at Capt Cooks again, because it’s what, convenient, that’s right. Not a high point. Miles spent some time in the arcade and then we all went and changed for touring the MK tonight.
The line for the boat to the MK was a complete disaster. No marked queue, and so many people waiting and too few seats on the boat when it got to us from the Grand Floridian. People who hadn’t been waiting but a minute or two pushed and rushed in front of the rest of us, and we and a couple of other families who’d been there fifteen minutes got aced out. Joe was livid. There was no way I was waiting for another boat so I headed for the monorail. Should have taken it in the first place, the boats at every MK resort are non-functional. They just aren’t large or plentiful enough to handle the demand. If you’re heading over at off times, like the middle of the morning or afternoon, fine, but if there’s a park opening time or EMH or fireworks show to get to, forget it, don’t bother trying to take the boat.
On our way through the turnstile, I realized I had forgotten Miles’ room key! Which is how you gain access to attractions during EMH. He didn’t have charging privileges on it, and our tickets were not on our room keys, either, so it never occurred to me to carry it. I headed over to City Hall and after a short wait was given a Fastpass-like ticket with special instructions on it directing cm’s to allow him entry to all EMH attractions for tonight. We only had to show it to a confused cm once, at the Carousel. Everyone else waved us in from a distance.
We took the train around the back to Toontown and though EMH didn’t begin for a while yet, we were able to get on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with only a 20 minute wait. Small World was just about a walk-on. Then we watched Wishes from Pooh side of Dumbo. There were so many people camped out between Dumbo and the Pinocchio Haus looking at the castle, waiting for the show. I felt sorry for them because they weren’t going to be able to see a thing from where they were. I feel guilty that I didn’t try and warn some of them, but I’m sure they would have just looked at me like I was nuts, and since most of them were camped on benches I know they really wouldn’t have wanted to believe me.
The rest of the night went like a charm. It was one of the most manageable evening EMH’s I’ve ever been to at the Magic Kingdom. And it’s July! High Season! Supposedly so crowded!
The most miserable evening EMH I’ve ever attended was at the Magic Kingdom on a Sunday night in late May. And this was the best, on a Friday in late July.
I have two theories as to why this is the case. First, I think the majority of guests this July trip were families with young children, and that the recession has reduced the occupancy rates at Disney’s hotels. This meant that many of the people in the park during the day either couldn’t or wouldn’t stay for the very late summertime EMH hours. On our May trip, the majority of guests were adults or families with older kids, and all the Disney resorts were booked to capacity. Which meant every person there was coming to evening EMH and it was packed with the biggest crowds you’d see there all week.
My second theory is that Saturday is a day a lot of people fly home. They don’t want to stay up late on a night before they have to get up at 6 a.m. to leave. Sunday is often the first day of a vacation. Who doesn’t want to go to the MK EMH their first night!
Tonight we got to do Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, picked up a Fastpass for Peter Pan, then Snow White’s Scary Adventures, the Carousel, Dumbo, rode Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear twice, and then ended the evening with the Pirates.
Miles at first was balking about going on Splash and Big Thunder. He never can decide if he’s too chicken, but we basically told him, forget it, get on the ride and stop talking about it, you’ll be fine. He’s ridden both several times in the past, but with two years in between trips I guess he forgets that it’s fun. He rode each one, once, and declared he was never getting on either one again. Which of course was not what happened. Now that we’re home, he tells me that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is his favorite ride in all of WDW, followed by Dinosaur. But he’s never, ever, ever getting on Rock ‘n Roll Coaster, Tower of Terror, or Space Mountain. Since I wouldn’t ride Rock ‘n Roll Coaster until I was in my mid-30’s, I guess I’m not one to talk!
We stayed until the last possible minute. We didn’t get to sleep until after 3:00 a.m.
I’m really glad we decided to do this one night here. For just one day the small shared facilities didn’t bother us, and it was worth it to give Miles his day in the Volcano pool. It was also super convenient to be a one minute walk from the monorail! That was an awesome location. I’ve never had such a short walk to everything, from any Disney resort room, before.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Saturday, July 25
Crashing in Clermont
Woke up I think 5 minutes before check-out time. Quickly dressed and packed and apologized to the housekeepers as we left like 30 minutes late. Quick walk out to the baking hot black car in the Poly parking lot, and we drove over to Downtown Disney.
Miles’ #1 thing he wanted to be sure and do this trip was go to the new T-Rex restaurant. We arrived at the very start of lunch time, and they were holding everyone for a few minutes until they opened. We were seated quickly in the “ice room” and it was very echo-y and loud in there, but it was cool.
The waiters all have training in dinosaur facts. The “comment card” asked how knowledgeable our server was about dinos, so Miles decided to put him to the test and asked him something kind of obscure. The guy knew his stuff, and taught Miles things he didn’t know, which really impressed us!
The food was o.k. Better than I expected. I think I had a salad of some kind, Joe got cheese sticks which he said were fine, and Miles had chicken nuggets, of course. None of us felt like eating a huge meal after our late night last night, and the heat we had stood in waiting for the restaurant to open.
After the meal, we hit the gift shop for Miles’ Holy Grail of souvenirs, a Build-a-Dino. It was very confusing to us as to how we were to proceed. We finally figured it out with the help of some other guests. Miles started grabbing the first things he saw without putting any thought into it, was so obviously over excited I had to take him aside and tell him to take some deep breaths before we could continue. Calmed down a little, he became more thoughtful and picked out a big purple t-rex and an outfit. The girl working doing the stuffing offered him sound inserts for an extra fee, no problem, Miles said what sounds do you have, she told him and he said “I’ll take all three,” and I said, uh, no, baby, pick one. He picked growling over giggling and “I love you.”
We got a couple of pressed pennies on the way out. I bought Miles a Disney pressed penny book off eBay, and got a couple of rolls of pennies and quarters from the bank, before we came on the trip, figuring it would be a cheap way to get his shopping jones fulfilled at a reasonable price. They only thing I regret about it is getting rolls of pennies from the bank, instead of collecting them and sorting out “good” ones. The pennies the bank gave me were 70% filthy and darkened, which makes the designs hard to see. Otherwise, it was a great souvenir idea. We managed to fill up his book about 2/3 of the way on this one trip.
There was an outdoor play area we never did go see, not sure if it had an extra fee to it or not. Looked like kids were “panning” for something in a sluice, maybe pyrite nuggets and those cheap “gemstones” they sell in piles everywhere.
We had originally intended to do some Downtown Disney shopping after lunch, but I thought we’d better cool it after the giant purchases in Mexico and Japan we’d already made.
We drove to Clermont, to a rental house where we would be staying for the rest of the trip. Getting into a quiet, private house with amenities like your own kitchen, laundry, and pool felt really nice.
We’ve stayed here before and probably will again, though there were some issues this time. Most of them stemmed from the home being unoccupied for a long time, I think.
I think the management company needs to come over and turn on the air conditioning a few days before you arrive, not the morning of your arrival, in the summer heat. Really, they should NEVER turn it off completely. That’s just asking for the inside of your house to get full of mildew, in Florida.
The a/c never could catch up until three days later when it rained all day. We were pretty uncomfortable the first two days. The unit that came with the house was completely inadequate, and should not have ever been installed by itself on a home that size, in that climate. It was sized for a small apartment in Maryland, because it’s the same one we have in our small apartment in Maryland! We’d love to purchase this house from the owner someday, or one just like it – but the first thing we’d do would be to replace that a/c unit with one that has about four times its capacity.
Someone had evidently left the screen door open to the pool area and there were hundreds of tiny dead gnats in the pool, which was gross. After a couple of days of netting them, splashing them out, and the filter running, they were all gone.
The digital cable wasn’t working properly – this was just after the switchover so lord knows what the issues were. Joe unhooked the cable feed from the digital converter box and put it directly into the HD t.v. set and it worked fine after that. We also could not get the wireless internet to connect via the secure owner’s account. Our software on our laptop asked for the WEP key and that wasn’t what was provided to us in the household instructions binder. We did connect via an unsecured account from the cable company, but it was very weak and only good for checking email and simple websites.
OK those are the complaints. The upside was of course the lovely open light and airy modern Florida architecture, the giant bathrooms, the king bed in the master bedroom, the big kitchen, and nice furnishings. Like I said, we’d stay there again. We feel like we know how to fix the a/c now, and it’s fun playing “home owner” fifteen minutes from Disney!
During our stay here in Clermont, we got on and off property via 27 to 192 West to the new Western Way entrance. Which, by the way, stinks. I don’t mean figuratively, I mean literally. It smells. There’s either a water reclamation plant or a landfill or both behind a berm along Bear Island Road. Disney’s leasing a bunch of land here and I hope it’s the land on the west side of 429 that’s cleared. Because that might be stink-free land. Anything east of 429, bring your nose plugs! The smell of rotting things went well with the dozens of giant turkey vultures sitting atop each lamppost down the middle of the highway. It cost us a bunch in tolls. Joe’s got a Sunpass just for Disney trips, and I think our bill came to $70 this trip, but that included parking twice at the airport for a couple of hours. It’s really convenient though for missing the hellacious traffic on 192, so we’re not complaining about the cost.
Joe washed his car and then went out to buy groceries. He went to Publix on 192. Miles and I swam a bit until the bugs grossed us out too much. He went and watched t.v. and played with some of his toys in his room, and I took a shower and lay down on the bed to rest for a few minutes. I think I slept for almost two hours!
We grilled on the charcoal bbq grill for dinner, swam some more, finished unpacking. I did a bunch of laundry. That’s it. Nothing too exciting today! I never did feel like I really woke up, all day.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Sunday, July 26
Epcot is a 5 Day Park
Joe ran some errands this morning we needed done, including getting gas and some over the counter medicines. I slept in and did my iced coffee and yoga thing. By noon we were all ready to head over to Epcot.
It doesn’t matter how much time we spend in this park, we never get done with it! When we’ve finished doing everything we wanted to do, we want to do the first things again, and on it goes. “You know,” I said to Joe later this week, “Epcot is really a two-day park.” “No,” Miles said, “we came here four days, it’s a four day park.” “I want to come back at least once more,” says Joe, “it’s a five day park.” I think we just need to move in. We could redo the old Wonders of Life pavilion into an awesome dome home.
We were here for nine hours today and got about ¼ done of what we love here. After five days at WDW with little to no rain, unheard of this time of year, we finally got caught in it today. Sometime while we were in Spaceship Earth the sky opened up and it really was pouring when we were ready to leave. People were huddled in the doorways watching it, but I could tell it wasn’t going to stop for at least another twenty to thirty minutes. We pulled out our ponchos and went for it, blessing our waterproof shoes.
We tried to go do the new Hurricane preparedness exhibit in Innoventions, but the rain had everyone jammed in there. Line was too long. I never could get Joe or Miles to go do the new Velcro show on the other side, this trip, either. I can’t believe I didn’t get either of these done, in a twelve day vacation… ridiculous. Where on earth does the time go?
We did get to the house of the future. Miles likes that kind of thing. He really enjoyed the little wind power generator in the “back yard” at the end of the tour. I liked the invisible home theater speakers in the walls. Joe liked the electronically self-tinting windows in the living room.
We picked up a Kim Possible reservation ticket right as the rain was stopping. After reading about how this works on the internet, asking questions for weeks before the trip, getting great answers, and doing it myself, on two different days, I still have no idea how the reservation system for it operates. So confusing. Please, don’t try to explain it to me. There’s something wrong with my brain.
Pickup point was in Norway, and the Kimmunicator we got there directed us to Mexico. Miles went nuts with over-excitement again, and disappeared and did the whole thing without us being able to see him and participate with him. I told him we wanted to see, too, on the next one. We pulled another reservation at Norway that sent us to the Italy pickup point.
On the way to Italy we shopped through China. We bought a metal and enamel goldfish that looks like our pearl scale pet fish “Neville” back home, for our Christmas tree. On the way out I got an egg roll and mango green tea slushie from their sidewalk cart. The slushie was very good.
The Italy Kim Possible pickup point gave us a Kimmunicator with a mission in Japan. Yaay! We were all hoping for Japan. Halfway through the mission, I had to grab the thing away from Miles and tell him to stop racing around like his life was at stake, and let us see, too. I told him I’d hold it. That made him crazy, but he started to calm down a little. The Japan stuff was totally cool, especially a stop where a bonsai tree “magically” has its life restored.
We went through Morocco. I got us sodas in the Tangierine Café and checked out their “new” menu. They have really cut back on the variety and quality of their food, which is sad. No more rotisserie chicken with olive tampenade, no more freshly baked loaves of bread. Sigh. This is like the 12th old Disney favorite restaurant of mine that I can’t get excited about anymore.
The Kimmunicator had given us the choice to do France after Japan… I hadn’t understood you could do more than one mission, per reservation, before. We did France’s mission, where Miles was entrusted with holding the Kimmunicator again and finally participated with us, then we saw the France movie. Joe got a baguette and butter from the bakery, Miles got a cookie. I think I had something, but I can’t remember what. Probably a croissant or fruit tart. I bought myself a little travel book about neighborhoods in Paris. I have a dream…
No more Kim Possible today. The pickup station at the International Gateway bridge was still staffed, but they weren’t giving out new reservations.
We got Miles some fish & chips in the UK, which he didn’t much care for. Said the fish tasted weird, not sure why.
Miles had said this trip he’d finally try to go on Test Track, something he’s always been scared of. On the way over to World Showcase earlier today we’d picked up a fastpass for it, with a return time of around 8:15 p.m.
We were in line and had reached the area where the cm takes your fastpass from you, before the doors to the preshow area. There’s a double door to the outside of the building there, along the wall, and for some reason it was propped wide open. Miles gets this weird look on his face and bolts out the doors, leaving Joe and I standing there, thinking, what the?
I didn’t want to get out of line, I figured we’d stand there and he’d come back in. The cm taking fp’s sees what’s going on, and says to me, “Does he need to vomit?” like we’re the most disgusting people on earth. Ahh, yes, vomit. I’d forgotten all about vomit.
I walked outside and there’s Miles holding his stomach, so I say to him, did you throw up?, but the cm is right behind me, telling us there’s a bathroom right there, waving his arm around vigorously, right over there, go over there, and then come back here, I’ll let you back in. He sounded more frantic than Miles looked. Evidently he had seen too much action on the front lines and was battle weary – he just couldn’t take another kid puking in his bushes. Must happen a lot?
We all headed towards the bathroom, which by the way is NOT nearby, it’s all the way over by Mouse Gears, but of course now that the scary Test Track ride was not happening, Miles felt fine again and didn’t need the bathroom. He asked if we could please come try again another day, on an empty stomach? He blamed it on the “weird” fish from the UK pavilion but we knew it was rank fear. It’s that the track overhead at the entrance shakes when the cars go around that curve, it totally freaks him out. Once he rides this, he’s going to think it’s nothing, he’s really going to feel silly.
We found a spot to watch Illuminations from, right up against the rail near the bridge to Mexico. Stood there for maybe 15 minutes before the show started. Joe had called this area as the most likely to be smoke-free, watching the wind this evening. You have to be very careful where you stand for the show, on humid days (which is about what, 350 days a year in Orlando?). The smoke from the shells can be so thick and hanging that it obliterates your view, if you get downwind from the show. The worst is when there’s no wind at all. Then the smoke hangs directly on top of the show, and nobody can see.
Tomorrow was our scheduled day to go to Typhoon Lagoon so I wanted to go straight to bed. Miles and Joe were cooking, eating, jumping in the pool and running around the house like squirrels in a coffee bean tree. They looked like they could both stay up again until 3 a.m. I figured I’d fix ‘em when I get them up at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow to go to the water park.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Monday, July 27
Typhoon Quest for Harry Potter
We needed another all non-parks day to make our tickets come out right (dang I miss being able to have annual passes). Today was scheduled for Typhoon Lagoon in the morning, then out when the storms come and close the place (we count on that happening, and so should you, every summer day around 2 pm), and over to Downtown Disney west side for Disney Quest & a chance to see the new Harry Potter movie at the AMC theater.
Upon waking at 8:30 a.m., I look out the window to see thunderheads around us and a few raindrops coming down. The weather reports had all been calling for rain on and off all day, today. Disgusted, I sat down with my trip plan and tried to figure out when we could give Typhoon Lagoon another shot. Joe got up and looked at the sky, looked at the radar at weather.com, and pronounced “it’s going to quit.” So on his word, we headed out for the water park.
He was right! Why is that man always right? It can become very irritating to be married to someone who’s right almost all the time. I say almost because there was this one instance when he… he… I can’t recall now, but I’m sure there’s quite a few examples I could come up with. I just asked him when the last time was he wrong… he’s sitting right here on the couch… he can’t think of anything.
Anyways, I’m glad he was right this time. Everybody had scratched the water parks off their list today, because of the early morning rain, and it was delightfully empty for a summer’s day. We did the lazy river. Miles lost his second pair of goggles this trip and I told him I refuse to buy any more. Miles and I did the Crush ‘n Gusher – Joe won’t go on it because it smacks him too hard on his posterior. He doesn’t understand this is a KYBU ride – keep your butt up. Miles and Joe enjoyed the wave pool. I hate the wave pool. Too much commotion and hollering, and idiotic people leaping at you thinking they can body surf, which it’s not possible to do from a stand-still (they come at you too fast and you can’t catch them, you’d have to get up to their speed). I sat out on a bench on the edge and waited for the fun to end.
The thunderclouds were starting to pile up in the sky in every direction, so I rounded up the men and got us over to the Storm Slides before we wouldn’t have a chance to do them. I went down twice, I think Miles and Joe did them five times. Then Joe did the Kowabunga and said he just about had a colonoscopy from his suit on the way down.
We had time to do the Shark Reef, with just a little sprinkling of rain coming down now, no thunder yet. I had a hard time with the snorkel and gave up on it, so did Miles. Neither of us can stand having the big rubber mouthpiece in our mouths. Maybe if I had something custom, smaller, I could deal with it, but that thing was just too big and it stank like chemicals. I went across with just the mask, and it was really hard to swim without kicking when you need to breathe every couple of seconds. I needed a few passes to get a technique together, but now it was raining for real and we needed to head out.
Disney Quest was at the top of Miles’ must do list, and sure enough, he loved it. To my surprise, he wasn’t interested in any of the virtual games, it was the arcade machines he was after. After a quick lunch of pizza for Joe and me and nuggets for Miles, he played some multi-player big screen kick & hit & fire balls of energy from your fingertips Marvel superhero game for about an hour. He’d still be there if we didn’t finally go get him and tell him to come on already. There was a mom with a book on a bench nearby, and I told her I should have thought of that.
We were looking forward to some time in the Create Zone, where Miles wanted to do Sid’s Make a Toy and Joe wanted to show Miles the create your own song booths. However, it was getting to be evening now, and Disney Quest was really getting packed. The crowd of milling people, the noise level, and the frustration Miles was having from his Make a Toy joystick not working properly all turned him into Instant Monster Child and I had to put him on the sidelines to sit it out for ten minutes. His lovely (not) attitude continued in the song booth line where he declared didn’t want to share, he wanted his own booth. I gave up and left him to have some alone time, Joe chose to stay and keep fighting the good fight with his stepson.
I sat down for the twenty minute wait for the next animation academy. By the time Miles and Joe emerged with their song experience behind them (Joe let Miles do a song on his own and then wait while Joe did a song on his own instead of trying to have group fun), I was drawing Minnie Mouse. That was a great experience. I learned how to draw a circle! You use your shoulder joint, not your wrist, and it works like a charm. My drawing came out pretty well. I bought a printout of it, and the pin for my pin collection at home. Joe took my drawing to work and framed it, when we got back home. Everybody say awww…
This place was absolutely jammed now, so we left and went to see when the next showing of Harry Potter was. It was playing on like six screens, so we didn’t have to wait long. Got some popcorn and drinks and it was time for the show. Fun movie, really nice, comfortable and clean movie theater. The popcorn was actually good.
Home for a late dinner of grilled stuff and watermelon and potato salad, and another load of laundry. Probably got back in the pool, though I didn’t make a note of it.
Miles was still being a butt-head and I was just trying to avoid him. I think he was getting sad about the trip being more than halfway over. Joe thinks his poor attitude today coincided with his running out of his allotted souvenir money, after he spent the last of it on his make-a-toy. He was miffed about not being able to buy his make-a-song, he was miffed that we wouldn’t let him go see the Hulk 2 or something like that instead of Harry Potter, he was tired. I was happy to send him to bed, tonight.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Tuesday, July 28
Long Day in Hollywood
We just couldn’t get it in gear this morning. Though we intended to be at the Studios for park opening we didn’t get through the gates until 11 a.m. The parking luck of the draw gave us the far end of a row. It was the same distance to walk to the side bag check (by the kennel) as it would have been to walk to the tram, so we hoofed it in the heat and blazing sun. That didn’t start me off in a good mood.
Went to Toy Story Mania right away, and at 11:15 a.m. the Fastpass return time was after 7 p.m. already. We didn’t plan on staying here that late today, though we ended up being here that long, anyways, and should have gone ahead and pulled a FP. Instead, we got in the standby line which had a posted 50 minute wait. It was actually 80 minutes – we didn’t get out until 12:50 p.m. It was worth waiting this one time, but never again. One reason the wait time was inaccurate was somebody lowered their toddler over the rail in front of Mr. Potato Head to let him play around in there like a playpen, and manager types had to come out and tell everyone that there are sensors in the floor and it shuts the whole ride down, which then has to be reset.
The queue was a bit dull, until you got up to the Mr. Potato Head “show”. Then it was only slightly less dull. I keep reading people saying how great this animatron is and how funny the script is, but I wasn’t feeling the love. Miles liked it when it paid attention to him for having sunglasses on his head. I think I was too hot and too aggravated with Miles (he’d spent the first fifteen minutes in the queue complaining about something, probably why does he have to do anything to earn allowance) to enjoy Mr. Potato Head.
Miles made friends with a kid in line in front of us. They got along so well, I suggested they trade email addresses, but the woman with him turned out to be his aunt, not his mom, and said his parents were really strict about internet use for him, and didn’t allow him to use email.
By the time we got to the ride, Miles had relaxed and was having fun with his new friend, and we all enjoyed the attraction. Miles wanted to sit by himself on one side, and Joe and I sat in the other.
Joe says he hopes the firing mechanism works a few years from now – he’s really disgusted with the lack of ability to accurately aim and have your shots registered at Buzz Lightyear in the MK, to the point where he doesn’t want to ride it anymore. I’m sure Imagineering learned their lesson and this will be less maintenance intensive, so management isn’t tempted to just let it slide into ruin because it costs too much to keep it up.
Upon exiting we looked to see if we could get a Fastpass for a potential second ride, but they were all gone for the day.
We had an ADR now at the 50’s Prime Time Café. It was packed, as usual, but our waitress was nice and the food was really good. Overpriced to the extreme, for what it was, but good. I had a chicken pot pie, which I’d get again.
After lunch we got in line for Star Tours, with about a twenty minute wait. As we approached the loading zone, Miles said his stomach felt funny and he didn’t think we should ride. So out the chicken exit we all went.
The Star Tours gift shop was absolute bedlam. You could barely move around in there, and the mood of the crowds was kind of ugly. At one point I needed to swim “upstream” in the store, and it was almost impossible.
Miles had heard that they might have autographed photos of Star Wars actors in costume, for $50, from his dad, who had offered to buy one for him (I was supposed to buy it and he’d pay me back, this was of course without asking me first, and communicated through Miles, whatever). Of course there was nothing anywhere near that price, which I knew would be the case from the moment I heard about this idiotic scheme. My ex also told Miles to get a couple of action figures if they had ones you can’t find at Wal Mart. I just went ahead and bought those (Christmas themed figures was what they had that were unique) and never bothered trying to get paid back for them. I’d give anyone $20 to keep down the amount of talking to my ex I have to do, it’s always a major b.s. festival.
I don’t think Miles has ever seen Muppet Vision since he’s been out of Kindergarten, and sure enough he didn’t really remember it. The show was fun, but the queue it was hard to hear anything over the crowd. Nobody was listening to the monitors that show the preshow film, which is too bad. I hear they are going to refurbish the preshow soon.
After the show, we were about 10 yards out of the exit doors when a woman ran up from behind us and said Miles had left his Camelbak hydration pack on his seat. We turned around to go back in, but the doors were shut. A cleaning lady dealing with the 3D glasses told us our best bet was to enter the dark theater, go stand at the top of the rows where we thought we were sitting, and when the show turns over walk down the rows and look for it. We did that, each taking a row, and nada. Then we went up to cm’s by the doors and asked, and nada. Then we went round the front of the attraction and talked to the manager on duty for the attraction, and nada. Later that day on the way out, several hours later, we went to guest services and it had never been turned in. We were told to go check with lost and found up at the TTC 24 hours from then or later.
I know it’s irrational of me, but I am still just livid about not being able to recover this thing. It was around $38, was brand new, Miles was getting a lot of use out of it in the heat. I still can’t believe it was that impossible to ever see it again. We were separated from it for what, 50 seconds maybe, when we realized it was gone. My best guess is that a guest after us picked it up and decided to go be helpful and walk out with it, and then who knows what. I can’t imagine somebody wanted to keep someone else’s drinking thing. Most people don’t even know what it is. And it’s my fault for not going to the TTC a couple of times before we left town, and putting our name and address on it. I honestly wasn’t mad at Miles, that’s just kid stuff, learning at this age how to keep track of your things. Miles was beside himself.
So, that killed an hour.
Miles was ready to ride Star Tours now, which we did once with him, and then he wanted to go again so Joe and I sat for him in the exit hallway while he went back around through the queue. He didn’t dawdle or get lost, he did fine. It was an odd feeling to send him off by himself, that was a first.
Exiting the area, the Jedi Training Academy was going on, but I’m afraid we missed Miles’ window for that one. I was sure he’d be interested in it, but he wasn’t, really, and I noticed all the boys up on stage were little, between ages 4 and 6.
Miles and Joe hung out in the air conditioned gift shop at the end of Rock ‘n Roll Coaster, where Miles continually picked up things and asked Joe to buy them for him, while I rode the single rider line. On my launch, they held the ride for an extra couple of minutes, which was pure torture! I love this ride, but it still gets me nervous, every time.
The area around the Fantasmic theater was already a total zoo of seething people, coming for the 9 p.m. show. There was an 11 p.m. show scheduled this evening, but it was raining by then so I’m not sure if it happened. None of us wanted to deal with those crowds to see the show, so we made our way out of the area.
Stopped at the candy shop, to get some candy for home. I got an m&m covered chocolate apple that I had them box up for me. I think I only ever ate half of it, before the end of the trip – it was freaking huge! Joe got his favorite flavor of jelly beans, hot cinnamon, and his favorite Goofy chewy “Spree” sour candies. I can’t remember what Miles picked out, probably a candy bar.
We grilled some dinner at home, and went for a swim. Miles wouldn’t stop splashing me, and then hit me, though it was lightly, in the face with a pool noodle to see what I’d do. He didn’t like what I did. Joe was on the phone with his mother and had to hang up with her until the hollering stopped. Miles lost his Nintendo DS, his t.v., and his pool privileges for the next day, and I told him he’d better shape up if he ever wanted to see them again. And a few other choice words. I haven’t been that put out with him in a long, long time.
Today was not relaxing. I can’t remember a relaxing day I’ve ever had at the Studios. I don’t want to blame it on the Studios, but there’s something about that park that always spells n-o-f-u-n for me. Maybe it’s too hard to tour, too crowded, or always on a day when I’d be better off just resting. I like Rock ‘n Roll Coaster and the Tower of Terror, I enjoy the new Toy Story Mania ride. The Indiana Jones show isn’t bad, and the Lights, Motors, Action show is good if the weather’s not hot. But somehow I find it hard to enjoy myself here.
Also, Miles’ behavior and how we were relating to him was taking a turn I had not expected. Looking back on it, I think this trip was too long for him. He didn’t know how to pace himself, energy-wise or with his spending money. There was something more fundamental at play, too, which was his sudden need for independence coupled with a complete lack of skills to handle it. He wanted to go off on his own, but couldn’t hold on to anything we entrusted to him (goggles, Camelbak) so no way was I going to give him a cell phone or his park ticket or much money. After years of being my easy-going travel buddy, happy to do whatever, he’d turned into a kid with strong opinions about what he wanted to be doing and where he wanted to go next, which honestly just kind of came out of nowhere. It’s like I woke up one morning with a different child.
I’m thinking now, after discussing it with a couple other parents I trust, this is a new developmental phase. He’s cycling through that toddler phase of wanting to be off on his own, doing things by himself, for himself, but you have to be there right behind him because you know he’s going to whack his head on the corner of the coffee table.
The rest of the trip, he was good as gold, honestly, and I started watching my tendency to want to pull him physically toward me in a crowd, an old gesture which he now hates, to argue with him instead of just hearing him out when he has an opinion I don’t agree with. And balance his requests to be in charge with what is actually safe and practical.
I’ve been assured by parents of happy, well-adjusted young adults that this will go on like this for about six to nine years, and then, right when the kids acquire all the skills they need to safely be on their own on vacation for large stretches of time, they will decide they just want to hang out with you, and do whatever you’re doing. We’ll see!
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 29
Never Say Impossible.. it's Kim Possible!
Today was supposed to be a day in the Magic Kingdom, but we had so much left to see in Epcot! I finally felt like I’d hit my groove, today. I was at peace with the world in the World. Today was so relaxing, though we walked our patookies off.
Got into the park at 10:15 a.m. I bet Joe that Soarin’ would have a 50 minute standby wait time and Fastpass return of around 2 p.m., and I was just about dead on! We pulled a Fastpass for everyone, return at 2 p.m.’ish like I said, and then headed over to the Living Seas.
Miles had on a loud tie-dye shirt and got called on in Turtle Talk as the turtle with the “multicolored shell.” Crush said, “What’s your name, little dude?” and Miles answered, “How thick does your shell get?” To which Crush replied, ‘Dude, your parents gave you a really interesting name!”
We finished that pavilion in about an hour, and took a soda break in Club Cool. I still can’t believe they got rid of the great theming and turned this into a mere gift shop space. I still like Kinley Lemon the best, and Joe likes the non-carbonated China drink. Miles agreed with me on the Kinley Lemon. He wouldn’t try Beverly.
I had really wanted to get our free Disney Visa portrait today, but Miles suddenly refuses to have anything to do with the characters! He doesn’t want autographs, doesn’t want to go to character meals, doesn’t want them touching him. He tells me that they are “creepy” now that he knows there’s some person in there whose face he can’t see. Whatever. I guess I have to wait now until he’s in college and wants to relive his childhood, to get my Disney Visa portrait.
I headed towards Pin Central, next. Miles was out of traders, so I sent him and Joe on ahead to get Test Track Fastpasses for us, while I bought some traders. I did not want Miles there, because I didn’t intend on buying him pins to keep, and didn’t want him browsing. I didn’t want to deal with any low down dirty finagling tricks. I met Joe and Miles at the entrance to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and inside, waiting for the preshow film to begin, I showed Miles what I bought for him: glitter princesses and Hannah Montana pins! I know he’ll be trading all of those.
After Ellen it was time for our FP return at Soarin’. Had a great time, as usual. Miles enjoys taking off his shoes and how his feet come right back to them at the end of the ride. Oh, note to Imagineering, if anyone is reading: how about a new film through some of America’s National Parks? That’s my big idea of the moment. I’m sure a zillion other people have had the same idea, already.
Miles wanted to do the Figment ride, much to Joe’s disgust, and after we got off, Miles said, “Joe, you’re right, that ride ****s.” I stopped in the gift shop to buy an overpriced color-changing rotating stand for Miles “head” I had done here, years ago. Every night at bedtime I get to see his head going around in circles with funky lights playing through it. Ever see Logan’s Run? It looks just like that. “There is nooo sannnctuuuary…”
We got the awful Disney nuggets that have replaced the good McDonald’s nuggets, at the kiosk on the way to World Showcase, and sat for a while on a bench while Miles ate. We had another Kim Possible reservation, with a pickup at the International Gateway kiosk. We got sent to France, again.
That was fine, we let Miles do it on his own this time and it was a chance to get more pastry. I had a quiche and Joe got some crepes from the cart out front.
Our Kimmunicator now gave us the option to continue to England, which we did. That was a really good one! I think it was my favorite Kim Possible mission, after Japan, and maybe Germany is a close tie.
After the UK we were offered the chance to do Japan, again, and we accepted the mission. Joe ate his usual udon noodle soup at the Yakitori House and we did our mission after he was finished. We had to drop the Kimmunicator in the return bin, here.
We stopped at the Italy Kim Possible kiosk to see if we could get another Kimmunicator, and they gave one to us right away! To my amazement, we got a mission offered to us that we hadn’t done yet, right next door in Germany. Yaay! Off to Germany we went. We loved the stop here by the clocks. Joe paused to check the price on a Snow White Hummel for his mom, and called her to tell her what it was, as she had asked him to. She declined to buy it – for some reason, the price has almost doubled from what it was two years ago. In this economy?
Joe called rain within the hour, looking at some stuff piling up in the distance. Next was a Kim Possible mission in China. I don’t remember much about this one. The last stop was kind of confusing, we couldn’t figure out where to stand.
We got Norway and Mexico as our next Mission options, which was perfect. Joe and Miles did about half of Norway before it started spitting a few raindrops, then a peal of thunder sounded and the Kim Possible kiosk cast member made them stop doing their mission and go under cover. The rain started coming down for real, and I quickly ducked into La Kringla to get myself some lunch – a great sandwich - school bread for Joe and a cookie for Miles. I snagged us a table before the hordes started running indoors from the sidewalks. Miles asked to go ride Maelstrom again, which we didn’t really want to do, but he begged to go do it by himself. With the stipulation he come right back to our table when he was through, we let him go with a hope and a prayer.
He did indeed come right back, about 30 minutes later. While he was gone the sky had ripped loose and we enjoyed a major thunderstorm. What a fantastic place to be for it, too, under that grass roof, next to the Stave Church, overlooking the lagoon. The rain started to slow and Joe and Miles finished their Kim Possible mission.
Next, Miles showed us the Mexico Kim Possible mission we’d missed the first time. It was a cute one, especially the rocket out of the volcano. Miles said there were a couple of things that were different, which surprised me. I thought it would be the same every time.
I can’t believe we got every single Kim Possible mission completed this trip, but we did! Miles was thrilled. Imagineering really pegged what would send a 10 year old boy over the moon, with this idea! It was great to really enjoy all of World Showcase without him being bored. He never did give a fig about the make a mask, or get your passport stamped. Kudos.
We meant to leave around dinner time and take it easy, but of course on the way out we had to do Spaceship Earth again, and then it was only 30 minutes until Illuminations. I talked Joe into sitting in my secret spot to watch it. I don’t know if he really liked my secret Illuminations viewing spot, as it’s a little distant from the show (and more I will NEVER say or it will show up in everybody else’s guidebook and on everybody else’s website and then Disney will rope it off and start charging extra to stand there). We got rained on a bit, but who cares. What a great day.
Stopped at Papa Johns for pizza and Joe ran into Publix about 5 minutes before they closed to get a couple of things. Went home and ate. Joe got himself a six pack of Miller Lites and went on a drinking binge, I think he had three beers before bedtime. I wish he’d get a buzz on more often. He gets all happy and kissy kissy, it’s a hoot. Of course he just falls asleep 30 minutes after the third drink, so I never get a chance to take advantage of him. Well, not in any way that would be considered legal.
Oh, and I forgot – it was raining by our Test Track Fastpass return time! Miles was SO disappointed… not.
How can anyone do a four-day Walt Disney World vacation? What do they get to see? Like three things? I was bumming that we didn’t have another couple of days to return to Epcot.
Miles had been asking us all day how his behavior was, and tonight we restored his games and t.v. to him. He’d been very good, downright helpful and kind, which probably contributed to my having some fun and being able to relax.
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Thursday, July 30
Too Hot to Handle
Don’t know if it was hotter today than usual, but I got whomped by the heat pretty good today. We spent the day at Animal Kingdom, and there is practically NO cold air conditioning to duck into anywhere in that park. The one thing that cooled me off was the torrential rains at the end of the day. We got absolutely soaked to our bones, but I’m jumping ahead.
We got to the park around 10:30 a.m. I wanted to make sure we saw the Nemo show today, and picked up a schedule from the kiosk just past the turnstiles. For some reason, a few shows were in red ink, and the rest were in black. I looked all over the paper, front and back, for some explanation as to what this might mean, and could find nothing. I stopped a cm standing nearby and asked him and he said, “Nobody here knows, either! They just started printing them that way today, and everyone is asking each other what it means, and no one knows.” I still have no idea.
The new setup for Fastpass is wonderful! You can pick up tickets for three different rides, Everest Expedition, Kilimanjaro Safari, and Dinosaur, at the It’s Tough to Be a Bug Fastpass machines. The rules still hold about return times, but it saves you a walk all the way over to those attractions.
We got FP’s for the Safari, and then did the Asia trail. It was hot. The komodo dragon was sitting still. The bats were sitting still. The tigers were sitting still. I think the fish were too hot to move much, either.
Much to my disappointment, I couldn’t get Miles or Joe to ride Kali River Rapids, to cool off. They won’t let you get on the ride barefoot, and Joe didn’t want his sneakers to get wet. Miles just didn’t want to get water dumped on him at all, but I also think he was scared of the ride. Maybe he thought it would have a steep drop like Splash Mountain. Oh well!
We stopped at the Harambe gift shop to get a drum Joe wanted. No air conditioning!! Lord, they were killing me. The cashiers had a little air on them, but the rest of the store, nothing. It was hotter in the store than outside of it. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Got a fruit and cheese combo at the snack stand for a bit of lunch for myself. We’d purchased Miles some nuggets on the way over to Africa. Joe wasn’t hungry yet – he rarely eats until late afternoon. After we were finish with our food (we had to compete for a place to sit, it was really crowded back here today!), I couldn’t think straight from being hot and decided I wanted to go to Conservation Station mainly to cool off.
Miles has always loved Conservation Station. He’s an animal fan from way back, and sure enough he spent 45 minutes here, happily. Unhappily for me, the air conditioning was turned way down! It was probably 76 in the building. Certainly was not enough to really cool you off quickly. Didn’t do me the good I was hoping for.
The heat must have been getting to everyone, because I saw something in the outdoor gift shop I’ve never seen before – two Disney cast members going at it with each other! Must have started backstage, and was continuing onstage, because there were lots of comments from one of them about “I clocked in… I’m always here on time… One time… You have to go and make a remark...” The other one was older and wiser and was trying to not have this discussion onstage and get away from it, but the one I could hear, loud and young, wasn’t having it. She was getting more and more worked up. My favorite line from her, “I am professional, I know how to be professional, if you want to act professional, then you…” Didn’t hear the rest. They were both nowhere to be seen ten minutes later, with a manager in their place running the shop.
Miles disappeared when we were ready to leave and it took another ten minutes to find him. I think he kept zigging when we were zagging. He and Joe had a good time looking for hidden Mickeys in the murals at the entrance.
Got a frozen banana at the ice cream cart, and I think Miles had a Mickey bar. Took the slow train back to Harambe and it was time for our Safari. The queue was held up forever because of something. They always say it’s game on the trail, and it might be that, or it might be a truck broke down, but it was about an extra 20 minute wait. In the heat.
At least the safari itself wasn’t hot! Great view of both of the lions. The elephants were pretty active today, too. No giraffes. No cheetahs visible. Wart hogs are so cute! The bridge actually freaked Miles out a little.
We walked the Pangani Trail next, and enjoyed the naked mole rats. The cm stationed there talked with Miles for about five minutes, and gave him a laminated naked mole rat fact card, that he makes himself to hand out to kids! How sweet is that? Miles has it up on his “shelf of wonders” in his bedroom, now.
Went over to see about getting into the next Nemo show, but the line for it was very long 40 minutes before show time, and Joe was like, no way, uh uh, I’m not standing in that line to go sit and wait in the theater for half an hour. Whatever! A cm overheard him and told us to go enjoy other stuff in the park and come back for the last show of the day, it would be pretty empty.
We went over to Dinosaur, Miles’ all-time favorite WDW attraction. He’s always up for another ride on that. When we got out, I looked at the time and said c’mon and hustled everyone over to Nemo.
After being held for a couple of minutes with a few dozen other people, the cm’s determined how many spaces they had left, and we were able to sit down in pretty decent seats just five minutes before showtime.
I enjoy this show a lot, though after five times, I think I’m ready to go see Lion King next time, instead.
As the theater was letting out, the evening heavy rains had arrived and of course nobody in the theater wanted to leave the theater. It took forever for the cm’s to order people out the doors, and they finally had to open up some extra exits to get us all out.
We got absolutely soaked, having of course not brought our ponchos. Nobody feels like carrying them, so we never have them. We long ago gave up and have decided buying new ones every time we need them is just part of the cost of a Disney vacation for us.
We ran for one of the lovely pavilions at the Flame Tree BBQ, and Miles and Joe took off their shirts to try and dry out a bit. We sat there for about half an hour, and not a single person came within eyeshot of us the whole time. Until park closing time! Then we saw a couple of cm’s appear. The rain was starting to slow a bit, so Miles and Joe put their shirts back on and we all headed to the parking lot. Joe ran ahead and got the car for us, met us with it near the taxi stand.
That night at home, I was beyond exhausted. If WDW isn’t going to provide air conditioning, I just can’t do these summer trips any more. The rain stopped long enough for Miles to swim and Joe to grill. I discovered Turner Classic Movies was running Gone With the Wind, and crashed on the sofa and watched the whole thing. I have no idea what Joe and Miles were doing, I was too tired to care!
Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009
Friday, July 31
The Family Raft Ride Rocks
I’ve been trying to get Miles to Blizzard Beach for years, and it never quite worked out, but today was the day! I managed to get the family to the park at a reasonable time, around 9:30 a.m. That meant we could find a spot to put our stuff down. I found a bench and two chairs on an overlook at the last drop on Teamboat Springs, the big family raft ride on the right-hand side of the park.
We went up the single rider ski lift to the top of the hill, and Miles definitely did not want to do Summit Plummet. Joe said he’d go (again, he’s done it once before) if the line was reasonable, but it was not. Here it was, a little after 10:00 a.m., and the line was already at 70 minutes.
We got onto Teamboat Springs in just ten minutes, not much of a wait at all. Lots of screams and Miles immediately wanted to do it again, which we did.
We rode the Cross Country Creek lazy river around one time and then around again to the Runoff Rapids slides. After two times in a row up the stairs for Runoff Rapids, I was done! I waited back by the chairs for Joe and Miles for a bit, and read my book on Paris I’d bought at Epcot a few days before.
They came and fetched me and talked me into riding over on the lazy river for one more time down Runoff Rapids. Then we went and rode the Storm Stormers, which had the shortest line of the three rides at the top of that hill.
Miles headed off for the Ski Patrol area while Joe and I hung out in the Melt Away Bay. He came to join us, and I went off for a while to get something to eat and read some more.
Got a turkey leg. After five bites, I’ve had enough Disney smoked turkey leg to last me another ten years. What’s in those things? I think they’re toxic. I felt like crud after eating it. It didn’t help my experience that it was starting to rain.
I was under a tree, but it wasn’t much cover. I ended up securing everything I thought might get ruined if it got wet under the wooden bench I was sitting on, and put my towel over my head while the rain really came down. No thunder so they weren’t closing anything. After twenty minutes, the rain stopped and Miles and Joe reappeared.
I climbed up the stairs with them to do another Teamboat Springs ride. During my time sitting observing the end of this ride, I heard guest after guest raving about what a great ride that was. It was definitely Miles’ favorite thing here.
After our ride, the rain was returning so we bugged out for the changing rooms and our locker. Joe ran ahead to get the car and met us out by the curb right before the thunder and lightning showed up.
We went home and changed, ate an early dinner, and then headed out for the Magic Kingdom. It was evening EMH night for Disney resort guests tonight, but I figured we’d do the less popular rides and see Wishes.
For some reason, it really wasn’t that crowded, again! I guess Friday night EMH at the MK is the way to go, over Sunday night. Every time we’ve tried to attend on a Sunday night, it’s been a serious mess with crowds and wait times.
We were able to bribe Miles into riding Splash Mountain again this evening, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At first he said he wasn’t going to get on BTMRR at all, and now he was asking to ride it over and over again. I don’t remember what all else we did. I know we rode Pirates again. We left when the park closed at 11:00 p.m.
At home I did one last load of laundry and did some picking up while Joe did some midnight grilling. We didn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m. Tomorrow would have to be another sleep-in morning!