Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

I didn't sleep very well at all the night before my trip. I had so much stuff going on, and so many little things to get done before I left that my mind was racing. I laid down for a bit, but ultimately had to get back up to take care of a bunch of little things that I was afraid I would forget about later, like packing my annual pass voucher and my AAA card. After doing a handful of little things, I felt a little more at ease, and was able to drift off to sleep.

I woke up at 3:30am on Tuesday, sort of surprised that I'd slept as soundly as I had, all things considered. I ate a burrito for breakfast, and my cab arrived to take me to the airport at about 5:00. By 5:30, I was checked in and on my way to security, and within a few minutes I was waiting at my gate.

My flight was at 6:45am, and I was still plenty tired when I got on the plane. I dozed off (using my cute little Land Dog as a neck pillow) and didn't wake up until well into the flight. I found a little blueberry cereal bar on the seat next to me, so I ate that once I woke up, and browsed Sky Mall until it was time to land.

I arrived in Orlando just after 9:00am, and immediately headed to pick up my checked bag. Once that was in hand, I went outside to wait for my rental car shuttle. It took a little longer than expected, but wasn't all that bad, and soon I was at Payless Rental Car. I had gotten a great deal on an economy car through them...about half of what other rental companies were charging at the time. When I checked in, the man at the desk was very rude about my choice in rental car, telling me multiple times that I should have booked something bigger and that I wasn't going to like the car that I got, which was a Yaris. When I said that all we intended on doing was driving it around Disney World, he piped up by saying that as soon as we got there, we would see what else Orlando had to offer and wouldn't spend our entire trip at Disney. Then had the nerve to say "Trust me, I live here...you won't spend your whole time at Disney." I really just wanted to smack the crap out of him by the time he gave my the keys. As soon as he handed them over and I started to walk away, he said in a very rude tone of voice not to come back in there and complain to him that I didn't like the car I had been assigned! What horrible service!! Learned my lesson. No Payless next time.

When I got out to the car, it certainly was small, but could definitely have been worse. I couldn't figure out how to open the trunk, so I went back inside and found a much more helpful employee to go out and show me how to open it. This is the only car I had ever seen where you have to have a key to lock the trunk after it's opened. Most trunks will automatically lock when you close it, but not this one. You have to relock it, just like one of the doors. Inside, the car didn't have power windows or locks, which was a pain in the butt, but I knew that I was barely paying anything for the rental of the car! Also the spedometer was in the center of the console, not off to the left in front of the steering wheel. I assume that this is so the wheel can be put on either side without having to make a change to the dash. It was distracting at first, but I got used to it the more I drove it.

With all my stuff loaded in, I set my GPS to direct me towards Disney World. It actually couldn't find Pop Century, but it did find Fantasia Gardens, which was close enough. As soon as I started off, I realized that it was directing me to some other completely wrong location named Fantastia Gardens! So I quicky decided to follow the signs, and found my way to Pop Century easily without the use of the GPS.

When I arrived, there were only a few people in line in front of me to check in, so it went quickly. When I was called, I asked what room I had been assigned to, and the lady said she hadn't assigned one yet. Then I told her about how the last three hotels we'd stayed in, we had the very last room on the hall, and that I was hoping for something a little more convenient this time. She asked where I would want if I could have it, so I pointed directly at the large Mickey phone and said somewhere in that area. The room she ended up assigning me was a corner room on the first floor, directly to the left of the big Mickey phone! It was absolutely ideal! It wasn't ready to check into just yet, but I thanked her profusely for giving me such a great room location. The only room that was clean and available at that point was one on the far courtyard end of the Tramp 50s building, so I said that I'd rather wait and have the closer Mickey phone room.

After I was all checked in, I got back in the car and headed out to do a couple of errands while I was waiting for the room to be ready. My friend Tammy called while I was headed out, so it was fun to catch up with her for a moment. The first place I went was to Panera Bread so I could pick up some asiago cheese bagels, and while I was there, I also got a tub of their sundried tomato cream cheese. Once those were in hand, I headed over to Walmart to pick up a few things. It didn't cross my mind at first that the cream cheese would have to sit in the car...oops hehe

Inside Walmart, I got a 12 pack of water, a 3-glass tetrapack of wine, some grape juice, some Pringles, some granola bars and some crumb cake donuts. They didn't have the Entenmanns coffee cake that I love so much, which was very disappointing, but at least they had the crumb cake donuts.

While I was on my way to get a styrofoam cooler, Kevin called to say that he was in Buffalo and his flight was on time. We chatted for a moment, and he said that he didn't need me to pick up anything for him. After he hung up, I went to the camping and fishing section to look for a styrofoam cooler. I didn't see any, so I asked if they would be anywhere else, and the employee said no. Great, so that meant I had to make at least one more stop somewhere else for a cooler. I had meant to bring my collapsible one from home, but had forgotten. In hind sight I should have just purchased another small reusable collapsible one, but I didn't think about it at the time.

Leaving Walmart, I went across the parking lot and stopped in the Hess station to see if they had any coolers. They didn't, but the girl there recommended the 7-11 down the street. Sure enough, the 7-11 had them, but they were $8. Ugh. But I needed it, so I grudgingly paid it since I didn't want to have to go back to Walmart to get a reusable one.

Next, I opted to stop by Taco Bell for some lunch. I have fond memories of the Taco Bell in Crossroads...when I was living in Orlando the summer after my College Program, I ate at this Taco Bell every Thursday after I got my check cashed. I knew that if I didn't eat there as soon as I got my money, the money would be gone and I wouldn't be able to eat there later. So every week, like clockwork, I would pick up my check, cash it, and go to Taco Bell for lunch. This time, I got two crunchy tacos, a Mexican pizza and a fruit punch, and it came to less than $6. One of my taco was also double shelled...interesting.

While I was eating, I took a moment to call the resort and see if the room was ready. It was, so as soon as I was done, I drove back over to Pop Century. When I arrived, I tried to pack as much stuff as I could into what I could carry, but I still ended up needing to make two trips.

The 70's courtyard...that's our room on the bottom left!

The room was perfect...this is my completely ideal room location in this resort.

It's got a cute view of the big foosball table, yet is close enough that you don't have to walk a million miles to get to it from your car. Since I didn't have anything on the plan for the rest of the afternoon, I took my time in unpacking, and I hung up my jackets on the hangers in the room. I got the cooler filled with ice, and all the goodies packed away on the armoire. I pretty much just spent about an hour lounging around and doing a little of nothing, all the while watching the "7 must sees in Walt Disney World resort" show over and over again.

After I was fully relaxed down to vacation speed, I decided to head out and see a little bit at Epcot. I drove over, noting how nice it was to have the rental car instead of having to bus it! I made a stop at an open ticket window and exchanged my AP voucher for a real deal AP. Once inside the park, I made my customary visit to my Leave a Legacy tile. Even through all the rain and heat, my tile still looks brand new...I would have expected it to look somewhat weathered by now, but no. The Leave a Legacy agreement is almost up, so I wonder what will happen to them in the next few years. I'm sure a lot of people will be happy to see them go, but I personally have never thought they looked that bad.

Spaceship Earth had almost no wait, so while I was there, I grabbed a ride. This was my first ride since the ending was 100% functional, and I thought it was pretty cute. Not nearly as good as the last version, but better than the half finished version I saw last December.

After Spaceship Earth, I decided to see Stormstruck, which was new since last December. I found it easily, and was the first person in line for the next show. Inside the theater, you sit in rows with a computer screen in front of each seat. Then the film starts on the screens in front of you, which shows a neighborhood gettting torn apart by fierce winds. The theater also includes wind and lightning effects, and a few water sprays. Then the film stops, and you are asked a series of questions about which building suppies you would use to make the houses more sturdy in a storm. You can choose the style of roof, the style of garage doors, and which trees to plant among other options. Then the whole scenario is run again and you get to see if your choices helped make the homes sturdier. My team won except that they chose to put duct tape on the windows (I didn't chose this, as I knew that duct tape is ineffective against something being thrown through glass). It was cool, and quite nice for an Innoventions exhibit.

The next thing that I wanted to see was "What's Your Problem?" which is a comedy show about Velcro. I found the stage for it in the opposite side of Innoventions, but a show was going on when I arrived. Instead of waiting for the next one, I decided to move along since I knew I would be seeing it at least by the time we had the RADP meet there, if not before.

Instead, I went to the Seas with Nemo and took a ride in the clam mobiles. I still love this ride so much, and every time I ride it, I'm still reminded of the 2006 RADP meet.

Next, I went inside The Land and rode Living with the Land since there was no wait. I pondered seeing Circle of Life, but instead opted to get another tomato and mozzarella salad from Seasons. I had a tough time finding them since there were only a few left, but luckily they still had some. I paid then sat down to eat. Mmm...so good. They didn't have the bean and pasta soup that I had liked so much, else I would have definitely gotten some of that too!

When I was done, I strolled next door to Figment's Journey into Imagination and rode in a train completely to myself! I just barely missed riding in the previous train, but I thought it was really cool that I had the entire next train to myself!

The Imageworks, just outside of the Imagination ride

It was dark outside when the ride was done, so I went outside and took a few night photos of the inverted waterfall before calling it a day and heading back to the hotel.


I'd had a nice time, but wanted just a little more true downtime before all the commotion of the RADP events started to happen.

I drove back to the hotel, then grabbed my refillable mug and headed off to the food court. I got the frozen Coke, then took my mug out by the pool. I laid down in one of the lounge chairs, but quickly realized that laying down wasn't a position conducive to drinking the frozen Coke, so eventually I moved over to a table. When I was most of the way done, I went back to the room and turned on the "7 must seees at Walt Disney World resort" show again, since that show just really helps it sink in that I am not only on vacation, but that I'm in Disney World! Yay!

While I was in the room, I called American Express to inquire about their car rental insurance, and how much coverage Kevin would have if I added him onto my rental as an authorized driver. They said it would be the same as I would have, which was awesome, so I decided to definitely add him as a second driver. After another little while, I decided to go ahead and drive out to the airport since Kevin was supposed to be arriving a little after 9:00. When I had talked to him earlier, he had suggested Earl of Sandwich for a late dinner, which always sounds good to me.

After driving around the airport twice, I decided to go to the cell phone lot and just wait for Kevin to call me. Of course, as soon as I pulled in, he called, so I had to turn right back around and drive back to the passenger pick up area. Once he was securely in the car, we drove back over to Payless rental car so we could add his name to the car rental. The employee we got was much more helpful than the first one I dealt with, and we were in and out quickly. We got a little turned around when we were leaving, but eventually found our way back to Crossroads with plenty of time to spare before Earl of Sandwich closed.

At Earl of Sandwich, I got my usual sandwich, which is the Earl's Club without bacon on it. They also had a tasty sounding tomato soup, but I decided against it. Kevin went with the soup though, as well as a sandwich. When I went to sit down, I found an empty booth and sat my stuff down. A few seconds later, a man came over and sat in the other side of the booth and started talking to the people at the booth next to me. So I said excuse me, that I had someone who was going to be sitting with me and that I would need that seat. Then the man said "I was sitting here first." Um, what? Are we five years old again? The booth was empty when I sat down, so clearly *I* was sitting here first (but of course I didn't stoop to his level and say that to him). After what was obviously a nasty look on my part, the people in the next booth scooted closer together and the man moved over with them. Weird.

Kevin let me have a taste of his tomato soup, which was really good! I sort of wished I'd gotten a bowl, but then again the sandwich alone was more than enough to fill me up. When we were done, we walked around to Once Upon a Toy, where I scanned the Mr. Potato Head parts, but once again found nothing new. This is two years in a row where I haven't been able to get any new Mr. Potato Head parts here...disappointing. It used to be that there were new parts on every trip, and now nothing for two years.

When we were done, we walked over to Pleasure Island, and took a good look at the sad state of affairs in that area. It's really a strange vibe now that everything is closed. Marketplace is bustling, West Side is bustling, but then you have this empty, quiet expanse of closed up buildings to bridge them. It's just weird. We did note that "the lights were on but no one was home" at the Adventurer's Club, which looked exactly as it did when I saw it for the last time in September. We kept walking most of the way down West Side, but there was nothing going on down there, so we headed back. We also mused about the fact that Disneyquest's closing was announced years ago, yet that came and went and it's still open, but PI was shuttered on very short notice. Strange.

Well I sure hope so! Can't get much worse than shuttered clubs!

On the way back, we lingered near T-Rex, but it was already closed so we couldn't go inside to look in the merchandise shop. Once we got back to the car, we drove back to Pop Century, where Kevin unloaded his bags and started to settle in. We were both beat, so we didn't end up staying up much longer.

Go to RADP 13, Day 2
Return to the RADP 13 index