September 1999 - Wilderness Lodge
Prologue: Catch Us If You Can, Floyd!
Well, we got diner to go at Burger King and hit the road for Florida on Wednesday, September 15, 1999 by 6:30 p.m. It was already raining in Philadelphia from hurricane Floyd even though he hadn't even hit land yet. I95 was not going to be possible this trip, so we went west and then south down I81...
And missed Floyd. We had a steady rain until midnight and then it was clear sailing the rest of the way. By the time Floyd reached land we were in Tennessee and out of his reach. We made it to Florida much sooner than expected and checked into the Quality Inn at 2:30 p.m. Seems we had a free afternoon to fill.
So off we went to the Disney Marketplace. It was so much fun to wander through every inch of the World of Disney. Of course, this did whet our appetites, so we just had to stop at Ghiradelli's for ice cream sodas. This gave us enough energy to make it to dinner.
Dinner was at a place called Key W. Cools Open Grill, a very nice restaurant down the road from our motel. We were back to our room and in bed by 8:00 p.m., tired but happy. After all, less than 12 hours and we would officially be in Disney World!
Part 1: Shaken, Soaked, and Bugged.
Hey, wake up! It's time to go check into the Caribbean Beach Resort. Get out of bed, Lazy Bones, I want to get to the Animal Kingdom when it opens! The Quality Inn was nice enough, but we're going to Disney World!
It's a five minute ride to the Caribbean Beach. We're all checked in by 7:00 a.m. No room ready yet but we know we'll be in Jamaica. We have our passes in hand and we're ready to play. Since we'll be staying in Jamaica, let's park over there and get the bus to the Animal Kingdom. Hey, we're the first bus stop.
You know what? Our next-door neighbors are here at this resort somewhere. Check out the other bus stops as we go by, maybe we'll see them. No? Oh, well...
Oh look, there's the Tree of Life! I can't wait to see it up close! We're a little early. Let's go wait in line and soak up the atmosphere. AHHhhh, Gene found our neighbors! Whoever would have thought we'd really run into them? They'll be checking out tomorrow. Have fun, see you when we get home!
Time to go in. Oh, check out the Artimals. They are so COOL! Let's head over to Asia...but on the way over, let's go on Countdown to Extinction...twice! This is great, there are no lines. Don't forget to look at the pipes. There they are, the chemical formulas for ketchup, mustard and mayo. You know I just have to take a picture.
That's enough fun in Dinoland...for now. Last one to Kali River Rapids is a rotten egg!
Oh, this is too cool, there's no line here, either. We have a full boat. Gene and I sit together and the kids sit together. Here we go up the hill. Yummm...can you smell the jasmine? Now we're at the top. Oh no, waterspouts...DUCK! Too late, I'm wet. Around the corner we go. There are a few rapids and bumps, but nothing too bad. And there's more jasmine. But not for long. I smell smoke! Look, they're logging here. That truck is broken down and all the wood is on fire. We're going under that burning log...and down a waterfall! Arghhh! Oh, we are so wet, and the water is really cold. Gene and I just happen to be in the perfect spot...to get drenched. Every time water comes into the boat it seems to hit us. The kids are jealous, but they just love this ride.
There are a few more rapids and we get to go under a broken, leaking water pipe just in case someone managed to stay dry so far. Ha ha, fat chance. We're coming up to the end, just have to go past those two cute little elephants...that shoot water at us! They're being controlled, with deadly accuracy, by people up on that bridge. Bulls Eye!
We make it back to the dock and the Cast Member tells us that we can stay on the boat if we want since there's no one waiting to get on. Well, we want to ride again. In fact, we ride Kali River Rapids four times in a row. I'm so wet I feel like I jumped into a swimming pool with my clothes on. Now, this is not an entirely comfortable feeling because it's starting to warm up and the humidity is picking up, too. I'm wearing wet glasses with no dry clothes to wipe them on. But that can't stop me from having fun!
The morning is still young and there's something we've really been looking forward to, so off we go...to Tarzan Rocks. This is such a great show. Fantastic music, dancing, acrobatics, and even roller-blading. It's like no other show I've ever seen at Disney, and it ROCKS!!
We still have some time before lunch, so let's head to the Tree of Life. I never get tired of looking at it and I see new animals every time I go past. The crowds are so light this morning that I think we'll have plenty of time to see It's Tough To Be A Bug. Follow me...First some pictures, then into the theater. I know what's going to happen (don't forget to lean forward or you'll get stung,) so my biggest enjoyment comes from listening to other people experience the show for the first time; first the screams, and then the laughter. What fun this is! Hold your nose, here comes the stink bug...
Part 2: All This Fun Is Making Us Hungry
It's unanimous, we're all hungry. Ready to catch a bus? All aboard and off we go...to EPCOT. I hope you're wearing your walking shoes, we're going to Japan. But I can't possibly pass Spaceship Earth without taking a ride. You can go first if you'd like. My favorite part is at the very top where we can see the Earth and starry sky. This is a 'must do' ride, a tradition.
Wasn't that relaxing? Getting hungrier...Ooh, Ooh, it's Ice Station Cool! My family doesn't know anything about it. I think we have time for a quick introduction to Beverly, don't you? They HATE it...and Gene says I have to try it, too (after I finish laughing.) Ick! A couple of the drinks are okay, I like the one from Mexico.
Okay, enough playing, it's time to eat. You better walk a little faster or we won't get there until dinner time. Oh good, we're here at Mitsukoshi Restaurant. We will be dining Teppanyaki style this afternoon. Go ahead and order anything you want, we're on the Deluxe Plan and your meal is covered. Except for alcohol, it you want that you have to pay for it.
Ah, a nice hot towel to clean our hands. Feels good. Go ahead and start on your salad, here comes our chef. Come on, use the chopsticks, we'll look silly together. We're going the seafood route today. What could be better than my scallop appetizer? Why, my scallop, shrimp, and lobster entree, of course. All cut into bite size pieces by our chef. Isn't he nice? I asked him to give you my mushrooms, hope you like them. That was a good meal. I'm too full for dessert, but you're welcome to have some if you want.
Remember that long walk to Japan? Well, now it's time to turn around and go back. But while we're passing through Canada...see the Beaver Tail stand? The kids do, and all of a sudden they're not full anymore. Okay, it IS vacation. Justin gets maple and chocolate on his while Rachel gets sugar and cinnamon. Not bad. They remind me of funnel cakes, also fried dough, but sprinkled with powdered sugar.
It's late enough in the afternoon, let's go check out our room at the Caribbean Beach. Jamaica, here we come! We're in room 4010. It's at the far end of Jamaica. You bring the bags in and I'll unpack. Hmmm...doesn't seem quite as magical as I expected, sorta plain. There's no mini-bar. Gene called the front desk to ask about it and they said that they're in the process of removing all the mini-bars. Oh, the bathroom door almost closes.
Part 3: Let's Get Ready To Rock And Roll
This might be a late night, ending at the Boardwalk. Since there's no transportation between resorts, let's leave the van at the Boardwalk while we play. They don't mind and we WILL be eating over there.
Boy, I love this resort. After staying in the Villas for our last two trips, I may be spoiled forever. Let's go get the boat to MGM. It's such a pretty ride. Look up there at the Boardwalk sign, see those two balconies at the top to the left? That's where we stayed. We'll be able to see our other villa after we turn the corner. Such sweet memories.
Disney - MGM Studios. This is the moment of truth. I told Gene I would ride Rock 'n Roller Coaster once, but then he's not allowed to bug me to do it again. Well...let's get it over with. I have to admit that I'm less than thrilled to see such a short line. I don't mind waiting, really.
Okay, let's do it. You want to go first? Yes, I'm right behind you, keep going. Ha, ha, look at the old record players! I feel like such an antique. Don't you think this line is moving awfully fast?! We're in the recording studio. There's Aerosmith, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm more of a Zeppelin girl myself. Go through those doors...and into the alley. Ooh, that limo is getting ready to leave. Screech - they're off! Oh my, that's fast. Just keep telling yourself...it will all be over in ten minutes.
No, I'm not going to sneak out. Here, I'll even get in first. Pull the shoulder harness down and we go around the corner to get ready to go. There's no turning back now...oops...wrong ride. Take a deep breath, get ready to scream...and...WOOOOoooo!!!!! Oh, yeah! OH, BABY! This is GREAT! That loop wasn't even scary. Here's a corkscrew - WOOooo! YEAH, we made it! Oh, that was too cool! Let's do it again! Come on, faster, we gotta get in line! Hey I know, no hands this time. Ready? Wheeeee!
I have a new favorite ride, I have a new favorite ride!
That was great! You know, we're right in front of Tower of Terror, let's go be uplifted. Justin is taking the "special" elevator, but the rest of us are going for gusto. We get settled in, the doors close, and Rachel says (with tears in her voice), "I don't want to do this." Don't worry yet, Rachel, we don't drop yet. Look at all the stars! No, not yet, we're just going up a little bit. Now we're going to move forward. You'll feel us lock into place and then we'll drop. Hold on, here it comes. Wheeeeee! That wasn't too bad and we're back up already. Just a little drop now so you can catch your breath. Here we go again. And then another little drop. Now all the way and then back up and down and we're all done. Wow, I didn't have any time to get nervous. And Rachel liked it.
She's brave now, and let's her brother know that the drops were "pathetic."
I need to make a quick trip to Celebrity 5&10 to exchange one of the Guest of Honor Badges that I ordered over the phone. No problem. She asks me if I want to keep the old one, too, but I don't have any reason to keep it.
Okay, all done. Let's go see Fantasmic. We're 45 minutes early, but the rest will do us good. Oh wow, it's packed. The only seats are in the very last section on the sides. We don't want to sit all the way over there. Let's skip it and come back earlier some other night. I'm hungry anyway.
You know where we're going, don't you? Remember where we left the van? It's back to the Boardwalk, we're eating at the Flying Fish Cafe. Pick anything you want, but save some room for dessert. I'm having "Peeky Toe" crab cakes, char encrusted steak, and I just have to try the chocolate lava cake. Yummmm......
I'm so glad the van is here. We're going back to the Caribbean Beach and going right to sleep. See you in the morning.
Part 4: Magic, Magic Everywhere
The phone is ringing. Rachel answers and a big smile spreads across her face. Mickey says it's time for us to get going. We're off to the Magic Kingdom. We have to be at City Hall by 9:15. We're taking the Family Magic Tour, which begins at 9:30.
Oh, they have coffee and juice waiting for us. I could use a cup of coffee. Here, better put on your Peter Pan sticker with your name on it, looks like we have a pretty big group going. Here comes our guide, Brock, carrying the most beautiful carved leather book with the Castle on front. (I later discovered that various versions of the book are for sale. The one I like is $175 - some day.)
Here is the story:
The villains, led by Maleficent, have cast an evil spell over the Magic Kingdom that will take effect in two hours. We must use this beautiful book of clues to find and break the spell within two hours or there will be no more happy endings.
The villains believe in TEAM:
We, of course, believe in TEAM:
Brock gives us each some Mickey dust. We all yell out, "Together Everyone Achieves Magic," and throw the Mickey dust up in the air. Now let's go break that spell!
Our first clue leads us to the Barbershop and directs us to sing "When You Wish Upon A Star." The man getting his hair cut appears to be in a state of shock, but he's a good sport. The lady barbers give us Mickey stickers and we're off to follow the next clue.
We're led to the Rose garden, then to the Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland, and on to the fountain with the big ball that you can spin around. We're then directed to take 50 Tigger bounces. We make up five different bounces and perform each bounce ten times, while we count out loud, as a group. We do get some odd looks from the tourists, but that doesn't stop us because we're on a mission.
The next clue directs us to the Starland Cafe. Our job is to sneak in, crawl down in front of Sonny, the lounge lizzard, jump up on the count of three, yell, "Hey, Sonny," and run out of the restaurant. Yes, there are people eating while we do this.
This earns us a short potty break and then it's off to find the spell before we run out of time. We soon find ourselves in front of a wishing well. Brock gives us each a penny, we make our wishes and throw the pennies in together. Don't tell anyone your wish.
Our next clue tells us that we must find Cinderella, dressed in rags, but wearing a crown. We dash up to the Castle to check out the mosaic pictures. We can see Cinderella in rags OR wearing a crown, but not both together. We must be in the wrong place, so we exit the back of the Castle and turn left. And there we see a fountain. It's Cinderella, dressed in rags. There is a crown painted on the wall behind her and if you stoop down and look at the fountain from a child's perspective, it looks like she's wearing the crown. We're discovering so many hidden treasures on this tour!
Next we play Follow-the-Leader into Adventureland, where we then march along singing, "Hakuna Matata." The next clue leads us to a group of six Tiki Statues. We must awaken them and then dance to their rhythms. Our next task is to find thirteen different lanterns in Liberty Square. We head straight for Liberty Tree Tavern. There's one clue left. It tells us to turn around and go into the glade.
And out jumps Peter Pan! He brings a box that he just found in the bushes. Peter and Brock open the box and find two scrolls. The first scroll is the evil spell. The second scroll contains the spell to break the evil spell. We read the scroll together...and the spell is broken! Hooray! Peter signs autographs and poses for pictures and then asks us if we'd like to go on a ride with him. Our group is rather large so he decides to take us on It's A Small World so we can ride together. He leads us through the exit and takes us right down to the boats so we don't have to wait in line. Peter, of course, rides in the front of the boat as he leads us on our celebration journey. The tour ends as we say good-bye to Peter and Brock and head off to lunch.
Part 5: Dining Like Royalty and a Look Around Caribbean Beach Resort
Lunch time! It's just a short walk because we're having lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table. I've never eaten here, but I'm already delighted as we go inside to wait. The Castle is just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. Now this is my kind of waiting, curled up on a throne. I really like the suit of armor in the corner. It's our turn to go up; instead of the elevator, let's take the spiral staircase so we can look down on our subjects. For the next hour you may call me Your Majesty or My Lady, as our waiter seems to prefer. What would you like to eat for lunch? I'll be having a salad, followed by a Chicken Alfredo entree, with chocolate mousse for dessert.
Good lunch, great atmosphere.
We're not planning on staying in the Magic Kingdom much longer, but the kids really want to go on Buzz Lightyear. Care to give it a try? You can ride with Rachel and me. Let's go get Zurg! I get to steer and I just love to move from side to side and spin around. What score did you get? Our laser guns must not be working properly, I only got 200 points and Rachel didn't get any. Ha ha ha, I guess we shoot like girls! Sure was fun, though.
We ask at the front gate if there will be E-ticket tonight, but the answer is no. We're disappointed, but we'll get over it.
We have a busy evening planned, so let's head back to the Caribbean Beach to rest a little bit. I have an idea, let's get off at the main stop. We can check out the shops and main pool, and then we'll walk back to our room. It's supposed to be a short walk, just across Parrot Cay. I love looking at the different shops around WDW. This one has a cute t-shirt dress that catches my eye, pretty blue with colorful hand-drawn fishes. Oh, why not, it's vacation. I can wear it over my swimsuit tomorrow after tubing.
The main pool seems nice and I know there's a quiet pool even closer to our room. Let's walk back. Anyone want to go swimming? The walk through Parrot Cay is attractive but it...ummmm...stinks. Lots of big birds must live here. We're farther away than we expected and none of us really wants to walk back across Parrot Cay, so let's take a dip in the quiet pool.
We have priority seating for dinner at Artist Point at 5:30. Let's get cleaned up and drive over to the Wilderness Lodge. We're not real happy with our choice of resorts this time; it just doesn't have that Disney feel to it. I think the pixie dust may be a little stale. But this is a small part of our vacation and we're having a great time at WDW. Let's go have dinner. It's just the beginning to the fun evening we have planned.
Part 6: New Home, New Family, Happy Day!
Oh, just look at the Wilderness Lodge lobby, this is gorgeous! All the logs, totem poles, ooh, I love that fireplace! We''re a little early for dinner, why don't you pull up a seat?
Oh boy! Gene just said we could look into moving over here. You go ahead and look around, I'm going to the front desk to see what I can work out....They tell me to call the Caribbean Beach and they will arrange the transfer through Central Reservations....Caribbean Beach tells me that I have to deal with Central Reservations....who puts me on hold while she checks. Will you keep an eye out for Lisa and Dan while I'm on the phone? They should be checking in any minute.
Well, it seems we can get a room for five nights, but not for seven. I'm transferred back to the front desk at the Caribbean Beach and they're not being very helpful at all. They send me back to Central Reservations one more time. Now she tells me to check in the Wilderness Lodge and then we can transfer everything from the Caribbean Beach.
So I go up and talk to Jim. We're discussing different room prices and views, but I just want the least expensive room at this point and I don't care if we look out at the construction. He checks for the best possible rate he can give me. I tell him that my sister and brother-in-law (Lisa and Dan Spezeckler) will be staying here and he says, "I just checked them in 10 minutes ago." I can't believe it, I missed them while I was on the phone. Oh, they're here...Hiya Sis, pass around the hugs!
It's after 6:30, we sort of missed dinner. Actually, Gene changed the reservations until 10:00. Here's the plan: Gene and Justin are going back to the Caribbean Beach to pack up, check out, and move everything into room 3142 of the Wilderness Lodge. Meanwhile, us girls are going to the Magic Kingdom with Lisa and Dan to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. I like this plan, the Disney magic is kicking in!
WooHoo, we're staying at the Wilderness Lodge!!! Ooh, this is so exciting.
As we walk down to the dock, Dan spots bear tracks across our path. It's a lovely boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom, but it seems to last only seconds because we're too busy laughing and talking and giggling. We're at the Magic Kingdom before we know it. Lisa and Dan haven't eaten all day so we head to Tomorrowland so they can get a bite to eat before they get sick. Then we head down to watch the parade. There's a pretty big crowd and we can't see everything, but what we see is great. It's over all too soon.
Time to get the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge. We have to wait in line while the Electrical Water Parade makes its way around the lake. It's raining...harder...and harder. I hope we get going soon. Last dinner seating is at 10:00, hope we make it.
Yes, we made it. Gene and Justin are already seated. We made it just in time. My tomato salad appetizer is very good. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of tomato. My entree is the pork tenderloin, and they're nice enough to hold the mushroom sauce. Very tasty.
Time to finally see my new home for the next week. Oh, how nice! And Gene even unpacked. We're right in the middle of the Disney magic now! I just need to make one quick stop to show Lisa and Dan my scrapbook and then it's right to bed. Boy do we have a big day planned for tomorrow.
Part 7: We Can Fly, We Can Fly, We Can Fly!
Wake up call at 7:30, Tarzan music this time. I open my eyes and look around and...it's real, we're really at the Wilderness Lodge! It wasn't a dream! Everybody up, put on your swimsuits. Don't forget a change of clothes, I don't think we'll have time to come back here before the Meet. Just a minute, let me make sure I have my scrapbook and pins. Okay, let's go to the Contemporary. We have water tubing reservations at 8:30, followed by parasailing at 10:00.
We've never gone water-skiing. I think tubing will be enough excitement for us, and it's something the whole family can do. Ken, the captain, is going to pull two tubes at once. We'll let the kids go first. Hold on tight you guys, here we go......fast! Whoa, look at them bounce around! That's the biggest smile I've seen on Justin in a long time. (He later said that it wasn't a male-friendly ride.) Okay, big kids' turn. This is great! I had no idea we would go so fast. I got it now...you have to use your legs to lift your seat off the bottom because at that speed, the water hitting the thin piece of rubber on the bottom of the tube can start to sting. This is fun. We're going to let the kids have one more turn. And Justin only falls off twice!
Now it's time to go back and switch boats. We're going parasailing! And we have a surprise...they're going to let Rachel fly with Gene. When we made the reservations, we were told that she was too young and she was really disappointed. Now she's surprised and excited.
I tell the captain that I need to go first so I don't chicken out. No problem. They strap a special harness on me and then a life vest. They go fast enough to fill the parachute with air. Then I go to the back of the boat and they snap my harness onto the parachute. I have to sit down on the deck so they can make sure I'm comfortable in the harness. They let the rope out...and I start to float up and away from the boat. There's nothing frightening, I just float higher and higher. It doesn't feel any different as I go up...the boat just gets smaller. I'm flying! I can see the Magic Kingdom and its resorts. Over in the distance is the Swan and Dolphin, Tower or Terror, and beyond that, even the top of the Tree of Life. This is glorious. It's the best thing I've ever done!!!..........and then I'm screaming (as I realize the winch is pulling me in), NO! Not yet! Let the rope out!
It's Gene's and Rachel's turn. Rachel rides in front of Gene and they're hooked together. I guess it seems pretty tame to Gene, who has gone sky diving, but Rachel loves it. They don't even hold on (I did), they spread their arms wide as if they're really flying.
What a most excellent morning...and the best is yet to come!
Part 8: Giggles and Guffaws
We drive over to the West Side to get ready for the meet. Gene and the kids have plenty of time to shop at the Virgin Megastore, but I head straight for the House of Blues. As soon as the doors open, I let the girl know that 24 of us will be showing up at 11:30. I find out later that some of the others are here, but they're at the other entrance. I'm armed with my scrapbook and my gifts and settle down on the porch to wait.
SWAN and Zelatus are the first to join me on the porch. Now, I recognize Zelatus from the pictures that SWAN has just posted, but SWAN is nothing like I expected. I mean, it seems like the leader of the 'We Love Our Bodies' club should have an ounce of fat on her somewhere. But here is this cute little redheaded chick in a sexy sundress. Still, she IS with Zelatus and that makes her SWAN, so I grab her up in a bear hug just as she's saying, "...and you are?" I just offer up a bar or two of 'Swanee, How I Love Ya' and we're both giggling. Then I grab Zelatus around the neck before he gets some dumb idea like shaking hands.
Now some others are showing up. The first thing that catches my eye is cute, fuzzy Piglet ears. Then I see Lisa and Dan, and the Boo Tribe, and more and more people are coming; and each of us runs from person to person, hugging and laughing, and trying to make sure we don't miss anyone. And we're all here, all on time, all talking at once and nearly bubbling over with excitement.
The House of Blues is ready for us and they've prepared two long tables for us right in front of the stage. The Faeries must have led us here, we couldn't be treated better. The waiter is exceptional. He prepares separate checks for each family, manages to keep the orders straight and goes out of his way to make sure we're happy. He even takes everyone's camera and take a group picture of all of us up on stage.
It was all over in the blink of an eye.
But alas, our time was up and it was time for some of us to go to Cirque du Soleil. I'm not even going to insult the performance by trying to describe it with my inadequate words. If you ever get the chance: GO, don't miss it; at any cost, you won't regret it.
What a glorious day, and there's so much fun ahead. For now, we're going back to the Wilderness Lodge to swim and relax. Actually, I'm too wound up to relax, so we decide to drive to the Yacht Club and head over to EPCOT for a while. We don't have a lot of time, but we can go on the Universe of Energy. Rachel tells us what kind of dinosaurs we pass. By the way, you know that big T-Rex in the beginning of the ride? Well, Rachel says it's an Allosaur, T-Rex was from a different time period.
It's time to head for the Illuminations Cruise.
Part 9: This Must Be The Disney Cruise Line, I Just Know We're On The Magic
It's time to head over to the Yacht Club for the Illuminations Cruise, but Justin is complaining that he doesn't feel well. He really wants to go back to the room. Gene takes him to the front exit to make sure he gets on the right bus while Rachel and I head for the exit at the International Gateway...
...and run into SWAN and Zelatus. Just in time to catch the boat to the Yacht Club. There we get to meet Wendy (who comes running over with a box full of bubble-blowing toys) and her hubby, Barry. By now I've shared pixie dust sparkles with everyone, including the boat captain. They come in a gel that disappears as we spread it on our faces, leaving just the pixie dust to sparkle in the light. Wendy has passed around various soft drinks, and we all load onto the two boats to find that she has also set up a tray of goodies. There's cheese and crackers and salami, raw veggies and dip, fresh fruit - something for everyone.
So we have another hour of giggling and guffawing, although we are almost quiet during Illuminations. Our boat captain tells us that we are a great group and we really know how to have a fun time. How funny to watch his jaw drop when I tell him that most of us have never met before today! After Illuminations, cheesecake and fruit is passed around to enjoy as we cruise around the lake.
It's all over so fast. I can't believe it's time to go to dinner. I just HAVE to run around, collecting hugs before we head off to Yachtsman's Steakhouse.
Anyone with a weak stomach needs to skip the next part.
And those of you brave souls who think you can take it - let's go eat!
We're tired, we're happy, we're hungry, and Rachel is saying that she doesn't feel well. I figure she's getting tired after a busy day. She refuses to eat and I let her put her head down and sleep while we enjoy our filets. We'll just have her chicken tenders wrapped up and we'll take them back and put them in the cooler in case she gets hungry later.
Gene is going to be Wonder Dad and carry her out to the car while I carry her meal. He picks up her little body, trying to not wake her up, and starts to follow me away from the table....and Rachel let's loose. Throws up...down Gene's back, down his front, on herself, and...on the one other family in the dining room! Oh, no! The poor little thing just can't stop. We're grabbing cloth napkins off the other tables. Waiters and a manager or two are offering more napkins, both wet and dry. I'm trying to get someone to help the other family (the ladies have gone off to the rest room.) And Gene is trying to hold his shirt away from his body.
Rachel finally comes up for air. I take her to the ladies' room (just in time to hear one of the women say, "Ooh, it's in my hair!" - Oh, how I grovel!), take off Rachel's shirt and put on her rain poncho. Gene is in the men's room changing into his poncho.
We make it back to the room (not totally unscathed - well, I am) and Gene takes over and saves the day. He not only gets both of them cleaned up, but also stays up with Rachel, who continues to be sick until 3:00 a.m. Wonder Mom falls asleep, wearing earplugs (because hubby snores), thinking the worst is over, and will learn the truth in the morning.
Well, it WAS part of the trip!
Part 10: DQ...and I Don't Mean Dairy Queen
We all wake up by 8:00, only to learn the full extent of Rachel's illness. Gene and Rachel could both use some more sleep, so Justin and I give them a couple more hours of rest while we go do laundry. It's not the most exciting part of vacation, but I get to have some nice conversations with other interesting people down in the laundry room. We're done and ready to start the day by 10:30. Rachel says she's feeling much better.
It's off to Disney Quest we go. Are you ready to play? I can tell this is our kind of place as we ride up the elevator. Oh look, Cyber Space Mountain isn't crowded at all, this is going to be so much fun! You have a choice: you can team up with the daredevils, Gene and Rachel, on their level 3 coaster; or you can come along with the cowards on our level 1 coaster. We're all satisfied with our creations. Hope you had fun.
Our next adventure takes us for a ride on Aladdin's Magic Carpet. Halfway through this experience, after crashing into every doorway, wall, and pillar, my stomach is doing flip-flops. I'll make it to the end, but I sure don't need to do this again.
But look over that railing. That's the Virtual Jungle Cruise. I've been looking forward to this. I think my belly can handle it, wanna take a ride? You can sit in the back with Gene and me, here's your oar. Here we go - this is really cool, we can pick which way to go. Keep paddling, we don't want to get stuck in a whirlpool or eaten by that dinosaur. This is so much fun, but I was wrong about the stomach flip-flops being over. I'll tell you what, why don't you go with Gene and the kids to help out Hercules while I just sit here and rest. Did you have fun? I think I'll just wait until next time.
Let's go upstairs and play some old video games. Gene tackles the original Asteroids as if he's been playing it all these years. I run straight for Galaga. Boy, it's been so long I don't even remember how to play. I used to be able to do this, honest. Ah, nostalgia isn't what it used to be. The kids just jump from game to game. What's your favorite? Go ahead and play, we'll wait for you.
You know what? I could really use a rest. I don't even feel like eating lunch. Justin says he could use a rest, too. We're going to take a nap, but why don't you join Gene and Rachel as they go zip around the lake on a Water Mouse? Have fun.
Part 11: Kungaloosh!
That little snooze really helped. Ready to play some more? Rachel has reservations to play downstairs at the Cub's Den this evening. We drop her off at 4:30, pick up a beeper in case they need to reach us, and head over to MGM. We just have to do Rock 'n Roller Coaster again (Justin's eyes are still closed for the picture) and Star Tours, followed by the new Sound Stage show, starring Drew Carey. Very interesting. That's about all we have time for right now.
Let's go catch the bus to Pleasure Island. It's time to go to the Adventurer's Club. Kungaloosh!
Lisa and Dan are already there, hi guys! Let's have some fun!
I love the Adventurer's Club. It's one of my favorite places to play. I'm a member of the club; I know the creed, the song, the greeting, have several t-shirts and pins, recognize most of the characters, and my favorite drink is a Kungaloosh. Now, I don't drink much alcohol and I don't handle it well. My limit is two Kungalooshes, which I down fairly quickly because they taste so good. This makes me slightly silly as I play along with the Cast Members.
We can't stay as long as we'd like to because we have dinner reservations at Fulton's Crab House. We haven't eaten much today and I'm more than ready for a seafood feast. It's a fun time, we giggle and joke around, and bring our waitress, Karen , in on the fun. And how's this for a feast: my appetizer consists of blue crab claws, shrimp, and a King crab leg, with more King crab legs as my entree. We're doing dessert tonight, too. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing sounds just about perfect for me. After all, it is one of the major food groups. Actually, Gene's milk chocolate creme brulee is even better. Yummmmmmm.
It's time to catch the bus back to the Lodge and collect Rachel. Gene stops to get her, while Justin and I race to the room. He's faster, but I have the key. :-) Gene and Rachel are up soon after and Gene is happy to report that they loved Rachel, and she was very helpful. Of course!
It's 11:30, we'd better get to sleep.
Part 12: A Happy Beginning to a New Day
After our late night, we don't ask for a wake-up call. We wake up a little after 8:00 and decide to have a character breakfast at Artist Point. There's just a few minute wait and then we're seated. Since we're on the Deluxe Plan, the waitress starts us off with a large plate of fresh fruit and we order something to drink. I get a chocolate drink, but when I see the cappuccino I just have to have one. Yummy! Breakfast is a plated buffet; everyone gets the same thing to eat, but you're welcome to have more. The food is nothing wonderful, but then again, that's not why we're here. Look over there......
It's Eeyore! Oh, he's my very favorite. I'm just about jumping up and down in my seat. It's Eeyore!....and he's heading our way! Yippee! Here comes Eeyore! WooHoo! Here's the camera, Gene. Please take a picture or two or three. Eeyore is happy to pose with one arm around Rachel and one arm around me. But the fun's not over. He goes over and hugs Justin and then poses with Gene while I take a picture. This is the highlight of my day.
But it's not over yet. Now Tigger comes bouncing over. He's a busy Tigger, but he has time to give us each a hug and pose for pictures.
And then Pooh Bear comes around and he's delighted to see my Guest of Honor badge, which just happens to have his picture on front. We pass around hugs and the camera to take more pictures. Now, this is a happy breakfast.
Time to get the bus to MGM. We still have some things to catch up on. We're going to start with the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Rosie, the cleaning lady, puts on a great pre-show. The next thing we know it's time for Indy.
I'm starting to feel not so good. Oh, my belly is not a happy camper. I don't even want to be here anymore. You guys stay and have fun, but I'm going back to the room. Take your time, I'll be fine.
But I don't feel so fine. I'll be glad to get back to the room and sleep. Sure seems like a long walk out of this park. And now there's a crowd in the middle of the street. It's Streetmosphere. Maybe I can cut through the shops, but wait, there's Francine. There's Francine, and Tim, and Mari and Francine is playing with Streetmosphere. No, don't give me a hug, I'm sick. I'm going back to the room.
Francine and family are getting ready to go home, so we walk out together. At last we're out of the park. It's a short walk to the busses. Oh, no, this is bad. We have to say good-bye here. I'm going to go over there and sit down for a while...And...
Part 13: The Barf-O-Rama Rag in 2-Part Harmony
You queasy stomach people better just skip to Part 14.
Because I lose it. Throw up all over the place...and over...and over. There's no stopping me now! And Francine is right there, armed with tissues, to save the day and get someone to help me. I'm sorry you had to see this. Don't miss your plane. Thank you.
Lorenzo, the security guard, babysits me, but says that he can't get me private transportation back to the Wilderness Lodge, I'll have to take the bus. The good news is: there are only 4 other guests on the bus. The bad news is: everyone has to get out at the Lodge because they have to take the bus back to the garage to have it cleaned out. I tried to warn them.
At last I make it back to the room...just in time to be sick again. But then I finally drift off to sleep. I wake briefly when the rest of the Herd shows up. I later learn that they've watched Indy, Muppet-Vision 4D, and the Soundstage Show. They're back because Justin doesn't feel well. He goes to bed and Gene and Rachel go to Typhoon Lagoon.
I fall right back to sleep, the best thing to do when I'm sick. I'm starting to get achy because I can't change position or I'll throw up. So, I doze off...and I hear this voice, far away, faint...remember, I wear ear plugs when I sleep. It's Justin, in the bathroom, sick. He's got a regular rhythm going: throw up, groan, throw up, groan, repeat as necessary. Sorry, Justin, I can't do anything for you. If I get up, we'll both be fighting over the toilet. Try to sleep as much as possible.
And then it's my turn again. And so, we spend the afternoon performing the Barf-o-Rama Rag in 2-part harmony. Justin, being a male of the species, lacks the ability to suffer in silence, so if his groans don't get a response, they increase in volume. I woke up one time and thought Tarzan was in the room. And how was your afternoon?
Gene and Rachel return from Typhoon Lagoon to hear our little symphony and decide that they don't want to be around us. Go figure.
The worst is over by the time they show up at 9:30. They've been to EPCOT. They went to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Body Wars, Cranium Command, and Test Track. They didn't eat dinner because Gene doesn't feel well. Back to bed for all of us.
But I've been in bed for hours. I don't feel wonderful, but I know the worst is over. And I just can't sleep anymore. I do a lot of tossing and turning. I really want to go back to sleep, we have to get up very early in the morning because we have special plans. But I just can't sleep. Gene wakes up and I tell him that I'm going downstairs for a while. I collect my notebook and pen, a couple of magazines, and a bottle of water and wander down to the lobby in my pjs. I curl up in the most comfy chair I can find, surrounded by pillows, kick my shoes off, and make myself at home. It's so quiet and peaceful. The only people around are cleaning the Lodge or mopping the floor. After about an hour, I think I can go back to bed and fall asleep. What a day.
Part 14: Family Time
The phone is ringing. Is it 6:45 already? Better get up and get ready, we have special plans. We have to be at the front desk in the lobby by 7:15. We're even a couple minutes early. Hey, look up there, it's Lisa and Dan. Hurry up, you guys, it's time...
...to meet up with Teresa, our Park Ranger, and head up to the roof. We're going to be the Flag Family. When I made arrangements to do this, I asked if my sister and brother-in-law could come, too. No problem. On the way up in the elevator, Teresa asks (just making conversation, not being nosy) how we're all related. I offer introductions to my husband (Gene), my kids (Justin and Rachel), my sister (Lis) and my brother-in-law (Dan).
We go to the top of the lobby, take a couple of pictures (you did bring your camera, didn't you),and then through a door for Cast Members Only. This leads to a short flight of stairs, at the top of which is a sign for the 7 1/2 floor. We go outside where we can see the top of the big fireplace in the lobby, and up some more stairs to the roof.
The view is lovely! We can look down over the courtyard and pool. In the distance we can see the Contemporary and Magic Kingdom. In another direction we can see the Swan and Dolphin. Is that the Tower of Terror? Look! There's the Tree of Life! And what a beautiful sunrise, I just have to have a picture of that!
Rachel volunteers to raise 'Old Glory'. Gene and Teresa help her so that it doesn't touch the ground. Then everybody helps to raise the other four flags. Okay, not me, I'm too busy taking pictures. Then Teresa takes family pictures for us and we get a few more minutes to look around. Then it's back down the stairs (66 of them, yes, I counted) and back to the front desk. Teresa gives us a certificate to show that we were Flag Family, and a complimentary voucher for breakfast at Roaring Forks. So we all go down and get a bite to eat and chat for a while. Guess what, we're all planning on going to the Animal Kingdom. Cool, we can go together.
Dan would like to go on Kilimanjaro Safari first. The line is short, the animals are out, and the driver is very informative. Good choice, Dan. As long as were here let's walk down the Pangani Exploration Trail. I just have to see the gorillas, they're my favorite.
Now we're off to Asia to get wet on the Kali River Rapids, followed by a walk along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. There aren't too many tigers in view, but the bats are very active. Lisa and Dan are going to go off on their own to see Tarzan Rocks. We saw it the other day, and Gene really isn't feeling well, so we're going to give the kids a few minutes to play in the Boneyard and then head back to the room for a rest. Gene naps, Justin does homework, Rachel and I play in the pool.
Okay, enough of that. Let's go play at the Magic Kingdom. We only have about an hour and a half before we need to head over to the Contemporary. Let's see how much we can squeeze in.
Rachel puts in a request for the Jungle Cruise, but I want to take them to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse first. The kids have never seen it and I haven't been here in years. You know, I could live here. I really want to live in the Castle, but this could be my summer home.
Jungle Cruise is next and the boat captain is hysterical. We laugh through the whole ride. And you know what else? There are no crowds! We have time to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean...and we walk right on. This is great!
I bet we have time to go on the new Winnie-the-Pooh ride if we hurry. The line's not too long, let's do it! Oh,it's love at first sight. As soon as I see the letters blow off the page in the wind, I know this is my kind of ride. This is so cute, it's a 'must-do' for everyone. If I had more time I'd go right back on.
But it's time to go to dinner. I hope you're hungry. We're heading to the top of the Contemporary, we have priority seating at the California Grill.
We're right in front of a window. Wow, what a view! Just look around, we can see everything from the Magic Kingdom to MGM. And look over there, isn't that the Tree of Life? What a beautiful way to enjoy dinner.
And what a dinner! The boys split the largest sushi platter as an appetizer. I have a flatbread with barbecue chicken, arugula, asiago cheese, and a lemon caper sauce. It just melts in my mouth and leaves me wanting more. Justin is full after the sushi (and still recovering) and doesn't even order an appetizer. Gene and I both order the Pan-Seared Scallops with a lemony shrimp risotto. Gene is so full from the sushi (and not feeling well) that he gives me two of his scallops. This is even better than having dessert. I never thought I'd say this, but...I enjoyed that even more than the Flying Fish.
We're going to make it an early night. The kids can play a few games in the arcade next to Roaring Forks, but we're ready for bed by 9:00. Tomorrow is a big day.
Part 15: Dolphin Friends
Today is going to be a little different. We'll be splitting up today, why don't you come with me? Rachel will be spending the day at Camp Disney. She's taking two classes; Swamp Stomp, and Art Surround. First I have to help her change into a Mickey Mouse outfit. Gene has let her put on Rugrats...you know, the ones who live at Universal. I'm just not comfortable with that. The boys will drop her off at the Disney Institute and then they are spending the day golfing at Osprey Ridge. We meet back here at 5:00
Let's go down to the bus stop and catch the bus to EPCOT. Oh, it's here...and we're the only ones waiting. We get our own private ride to EPCOT. We're 45 minutes early. Have a seat here on a bench in front of Guest Relations, we'll people-watch.
It's 8:45 and there's our CM, Gina, right on time. She's taking five of us backstage for the Dolphins in Depth program. We are going to be Guest Researchers for the morning. As we walk around the back of the Living Seas, Gina explains that we'll be learning about dolphins and about the behavioral studies going on at the Living Seas. At the end of the session there will be a "hopeful" encounter. It's called "hopeful" because it's completely voluntary on the part of the dolphins. If they don't want to participate, there will be no encounter.
Come on in the back door. Boy, it sure looks different back here. First stop is the locker room. Here's your key. We don't need to take anything with us, so just leave your stuff in the locker.
There are two male dolphins, Bob, and Toby. Let's go see where they live. There are two big areas in the back where they go when they want to be alone, but they're not there now. They're out playing in the main tank, which is so big around that Spaceship Earth could sit in it. But it's not as deep as Spaceship Earth is high. The tank is 27 feet deep.
We all head out to the main exhibit area. There we meet Cathy, one of the trainers. There are cute little stuffed dolphins (they're actually puppets) sitting on a bench. We each get to use one as Cathy and Gina teach us the different parts of a dolphin and what they're called. They take as much time as we need and answer any questions.
Next we go back to the tank. We meet Dru, one of the researchers, and she explains the Keyboard Communication Project that they've been working on. The sessions that they have during the day are also completely voluntary on the dolphins' part. We're taken into a back room and given lab coats to wear. Then Gina takes us to the front of the tank where we can watch a communications session along with the other guests. But we're taken to a roped-off area in the very front, and we get to see in action what we've just been learning about from Dru and Cathy and Gina. In fact, Cathy is in the tank, working with Toby.
Our next step is to go back to the conference room and discuss what to expect in our "hopeful" encounter. Then we go back to the locker room to put on our wet suits. Cute.
Now, all of the behaviors that the dolphins are taught help them interact with humans and make it easier to care for the dolphins. For example, they are taught to open their mouth to a certain hand signal. This is so that the trainers, biologists, or veterinarians can check out their teeth and throat. Another hand signal asks the dolphin for a hard exhale through their blowhole. This is necessary in case the veterinarian ever needs to take a sample to check their lungs.
Well, the dolphins got used to doing all of the behaviors for their trainers, but they weren't used to the veterinarians and their assistants. The dolphins would feel unsafe and swim away. So even though the "hopeful" encounter is a delight to the guests, the real purpose is to get the dolphins used to being touched by strangers so that the vets and technicians can work with them.
The five of us are taken to the tank. We all step into the water and sit on a bench while we're told what to expect and what is expected of us. They split us into 2 groups and ask if we have any questions. Of course my hand shoots up in the air..."Well, I have a Toby waiting at home for me?..."
Cathy has me move over to her group. We all walk down into the water until we're about thigh deep, and the trainers call the dolphins over. Now all my attention is on Toby and I don't even notice Bob.
Toby comes right up to Cathy and she leans him on his side and holds him steady. Then we're allowed to touch his side. He's so beautiful...and powerful...and big. We're all gently rubbing his skin and talking to Cathy, but it's as if he's an object instead of a living creature. All of a sudden it's not enough for me. I have to introduce myself. I need to connect with the dolphin, not just touch an object. So I talk to him and look into his eye...
...and he looks right back. And boy, do we connect! I look into his beautiful brown eye and I can see him looking at me and I feel like he knows what I'm thinking. I'm so in love with him! I feel like he's looking into my heart...or soul...and likes what he sees. There's a great deal of wisdom and compassion in that eye. It is the most profound spiritual experience of my life.
His body starts to drift away. He arches his back, but keeps his head in the same spot as we hold each other's gaze. Cathy pulls him back into position and says, "What are you doing, Toby? You've never done that before, straighten out your body." I'm so moved that I can feel the tears welling up, and at that moment Toby fills his mouth with water and splashes it at me. Not at the other guests or Cathy, just me. It's just enough to make me laugh instead of cry. And maybe he's giggling, too.
Next (I'm first), Cathy has me walk in a little deeper and stoop down until I'm shoulder deep in the water. She brings Toby up and rests him on his side in my arms. I'm holding him up and Cathy says, "You can put your other arm around him and hug him if you want." Oh, Yes. I want. And I lay my cheek against his side. This is truly love at first sight.
The other two guests get a turn at holding Toby. We get to feel his heart beat and each one of us gets to give him a different hand signal. It's all over much too soon. It's time to say good-bye. We walk around to the other side of the tank where the exit door is. Toby swam across the tank and he's there waiting in front of the door as we leave. I look into his eye again and I really don't want to go. He holds still in the water, looking back at me, no one else, until I have to leave.
I'm so very happy, not because I made goo-goo eyes at my dolphin love, but because he made them back at me.
We're each given a t-shirt, a video of the encounter, and a booklet about the Dolphins in Depth program. We're finished and Gina takes us back to Guest Relations.
I go back to our room at the Lodge to drop off my things, but I have to leave right away because I have reservations.
Part 16: Up, Up and Away
We have to catch the boat over to the Contemporary. I had so much fun parasailing on Sunday that I'm going back all by myself. Reservations are at 2:00. Oops, we just missed the boat. Well, the OCD queen just can't stand to be late; follow me, we'll take a cab.
The driver is less than thrilled with the short trip, but he cheers himself up by turning off the meter and charging me $8 for my two minute trip. Good manners are free so I give him $10.
Okay, out to the dock...and on time, too. We have to check in at the counter and fill out paperwork before we can fly. One of the guys asks if he can help me, but Brian remembers me from Sunday. "That's Laura," he says. "She's flying next."
Let's go! Hop in the boat! The harness goes on first...then the life vest. Now we speed up so they can inflate the parachute. Time to walk to the back of the boat so they can snap my harness onto the parachute. I sit down on the deck to make sure the harness is comfortable. Then they slowly let the line out and I float away. This is even more fun than Sunday because there's no worry or anticipation.
And because I take my camera up with me this time. What a great opportunity to get pictures; of the Contemporary, Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, Discovery Island, even the Swan and Dolphin. I even lean way back to get a picture of the parachute. Next thing I know I'm back on deck. What a good time!
I don't have to be back until 5:00, how about a quick trip to the Magic Kingdom? We'll take the monorail. Look at all those people standing around! What's going on? Oh, I know, they're getting ready for the parade. I know something else, I'm getting hungry. I'm going to the Crystal Palace, I haven't been there in years.
Lunch is ending and I'm the last one seated for the lunch buffet. On my way over to fix my plate, I just have to stop and take pictures of Pooh and his friends that are made out of flowers. Then I sit down and nibble while I wait. I'm not kept waiting for too long. Here they come! First Piglet shows up with a hug. He's cute, but here comes my guy! It's Eeyore! Yippee! And Pooh is right behind him. The couple next to me take a picture of the three of us. It was a quick lunch, but my main reason for coming here was the characters.
Want to know a secret? I've never watched the parade. It's still going on, I bet I could get some good pictures to show the kids later on. Ooh, here comes Ariel. And Then Aladdin...and the Lion King...Beauty and the Beast, and even Mickey and Minnie. I get to take lots of pictures.
And then it's time to head back to the Wilderness Lodge. It's such a nice boatride to the Lodge. I meet Dan and Lisa on my way to the lobby. I give them a quick recap of my day and then head up to the room to connect with the family and share glorious tales of the day so far.
Part 17: Fantasmic?
It was fun to spend the day alone, but it's nice to be back together. We've all had a good day. We're going to begin our evening at the Boardwalk. We're driving over so that it's easier to get back to the Lodge when we're done.
The kids (even the great big one) want to play games on the Boardwalk, so we'll let them play for a while and then head over to MGM to see Fantasmic.
As we walk over toward the games, I see something even more interesting...hair wraps. I've never had a hair wrap. So many pretty colors, and just look at all the beads. I think every FaeryGodmother should have a hair wrap :-)
Come on over and meet a most interesting character. I don't even know her name, but she's 12 years old and Carly is wrapping her hair. This girl is hysterical! I think she's 12 going on 25. I think she's from NYC, she's got the accent and outgoing attitude. She is so self-confident and just positive that we're dying to hear what she has to say. She carries us away with her tales and we're laughing the whole trip.
But soon she's done and it's my turn. I choose the light blue, light green and light purple. I pick out matching beads, separated by silver, and a special bead with the sun and the moon on it. Yes, I am so cool. We're talking major FaeryGodmother babe, here. Plus, I have pixie dust on my cheeks. Yeah, Baby!
The FaeryGodkidlets show up with their arms full of stuffed animals, but stuffed animals. The boys win them and then Rachel claims them. There's a whale, a parrot, and a gorilla. The kidlets share their tales of bravery and feats of daring, how they mastered the basketball hoops and milkcans. I just listen and look cool.
Time to go to MGM and see Fantasmic. It was too crowded the other day and this is our last chance. We're not even going on any rides. We're just going to find a seat and relax for the next hour. It turns out to be almost as crowded as last time, but we'll take those seats all the way over on the side. I wonder what time those people in the middle got here.
Well, we each have a drink and the pre-show is fun. And here comes a black cloud. And here comes some rain sprinkles...make that a shower...I mean a downpour. I'm melting!!! They postpone the start of Fantasmic to see if the rain will stop. It doesn't. They postpone the start again. Still raining. Fantasmic is canceled. A large ocean of soaking, sad tourists heads for the exit. We go down to the dock to get the boat back to the Boardwalk and...the rain stops. Oh, well...
It's been a busy day. We're tired and soaked. We're going to go back to the Wilderness Lodge and have dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe. We're too tired to even play with the waiter. He says that he can tell we're really tired and he won't pick on us. He's as friendly as he can be throughout dinner. Afterwards, we drag our tired bodies upstairs and hit the sack.
Part 18: Our Last Full Day
We're up, let's play. This will be our last visit to MGM this trip. One last chance to go on Tower of Terror and Rock 'n Roller Coaster (twice).
How about an early lunch? That will give us time to get hungry for an early dinner before E-Ride night. Let's go to the 50's Prime Time Cafe. We don't have reservations, but we're the first ones here. They just happen to have a table available.
I get up to take some pictures of the different kitchens and decorations...and get caught by a sister, or aunt, or mean stepmother. "What are you doing out of your seat?" she growls. My life flashes before my eyes. I break out in a big grin and say, "I'm taking pictures, may I take one of you?" Yeah, quick thinking. She poses and gives me her sweetest frown. I snap the pic and plop my chubby butt back in the seat. Whew! That was a close one.
There is a tremendous amount of food here, we'll never eat all of this. We order s'mores and I'm finally beaten by a dessert. These things are huge...and rich! No way I can eat all of this.
Time to try something new. We're going through the Magic of Disney Animation for the first time. I can't believe we never did this before. It's so amazing to watch the animator start with a circle, add a few lines, and all of a sudden there's a character looking at us. The animator makes it look so easy.
When we leave the Animation building, we run into Any Mation, the balloon maker. He starts up a conversation with Rachel and tells her that he will make her a balloon Tigger. He's teasing her and telling jokes while he puts together the orange and white balloons. They aren't looking like much of anything; but he gives them a couple of twists, pulls out a magic marker to make the eyes and whiskers, and there is a perfect balloon Tigger head. Andy gives it to Rachel.
It's time to go back to the room for a rest. Actually, I'm too excited to rest, I pack up as many of our suitcases as I can so I have less work to do in the morning. We load up what we can in the car. We're still too full from lunch to have dinner, so let's just go to the Magic Kingdom and play. Time to get on the boat.
It's after 4:00, so our first stop is to get our arm bands for E-Ride night. We want to go on some favorite rides that might not be open later. We go on the Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree, and Peter Pan. Now it's time to go to the Partners statue to meet up with Lisa and Dan.
Part 19: Ticklefest
Here are Lisa and Dan, right on time. We all want to ride on Winnie-the-Pooh one last time. And we have just enough time to go through before the park closes. By the time we're finished, the park is closing - but not for us!
E-ticket night has started! Off we go to Space Mountain. We go right in and right on. Lisa screams in my ear the whole way and we have so much fun. When we get off the ride, Lisa steps right out of her shoe. One of the cast members hands it back to her and says, "Here you go, Cinderella."
We giggle the whole way out...and decide to go right back on. We sit in a different order this time and I don't think twice about Gene sitting behind me, until we start to move. Then, all of a sudden, I remember back to last March and how I tickled Gene the whole way through. Oh, no! It's too late now! Do you think he remembers? Oh, yes, he remembers. There is no escape. AarghhHHHhhHHh!!!Help! At least he's kind, he gives me a chance to breathe. Next stop, Buzz Lightyear. To infinity and beyond!
Rachel and I ride together and I get to steer. Our lasers must be broken; I only get 200 points and Rachel doesn't get any. But we get to do some really good spins :-)
After Buzz we talk the two chickens, Lisa and Rachel, into going on Alien Encounter. No one gets eaten, we're all fine, but once is enough.
We're heading over to the Castle. We're supposed to meet the others on the dry side of the bridge. None of us knows exactly which end that is because the whole bridge in front of the Castle is dry. Or maybe it's that bridge over to the left, but it's all dry, too. We've been trying to figure this out all week. I'll worry about it in a few minutes because the characters are out and I want to get some pictures of them with Rachel. We work our way over, meeting with each character, and there, on the far side, are Karen and Ross. Our whole group heads over to the dry side of the bridge to find Beth and Rudy. Guess what? They meant the bridge in front of Splash Mountain. Oh, now I get it. And there they are, wearing their Disneyland t-shirts. That has to be Beth. See, her guest of honor pin says 'Beth'.
Well, here we are at Splash Mountain, let's go for a ride. There's no line, no waiting. Hop on board and be prepared to giggle, especially when everyone on our boat into pretends to sleep when the picture is taken. We check out the picture and then get right back on and ride again.
Then we head off to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. What fun, we just have to do this again.
Back on Space Mountain again. Some of ride once and then head for Buzz Lightyear. Some of us take a second ride on Space Mountain and then join the group for another ride on Buzz. Once again, Rachel and I get guns that don't work ;-)
And time is up. The three hours of E-ticket night have flown by and it's time to leave. We dance down Main Street on our way out. We get to the end of Main Street just in time for the closing ceremonies. Everyone looks at the castle and relaxes at the end of the day. But the fun has to end sometime and it's time to leave the park.
After a little confusion over transportation, we finally make our way back to the Wilderness Lodge, along with Lisa and Dan. There's just enough time to get sandwiches and fruit at Roaring Forks before it closes for the night. Then the six of us change and go relax in the pool until it closes at midnight. Time for bed.
We sleep in until 9:30 and then slowly get organized and finish packing. We've had such a good time, but we're ready to go home. We're going to have a big lunch before we leave and then drive straight through. Just one more stop at the Marketplace. A quick trip through the World of Disney and then over to Fulton's Crab House. I almost duplicate my dinner from the other night. Yummy.
We're off for home. We take turns driving. There's one major stop in South Carolina to buy fireworks, and then we're back on the road. And then, at 5:30 a.m., we pull into the driveway.
Home Sweet Home!