Julie, a 19 year old Cast Member from Nashville, Tennessee, college sophomore, total Disney addict and writer of the trip report!
Debbie, Julie's mom, a 44 year old Disneyholic, Sunday School teacher, craft nut and lover of all things Piglet!
When?: February 3rd-February 7th, 1999!
Where?: Disney World and Magic Castle Inn and Suites!
How did they do it?: Drove their van for 12 hours!
How long is it?: 4308 words!
Originally, our plan for the day was to go to Animal Kingdom for a couple of hours, then Disney-MGM Studios, watch Fantasmic!, then call it a day. Well, we didn't quite follow that plan.
We woke up at about 8:00, got dressed, went about our morning rituals, and had breakfast. I had bought spinach parmesan bagels from a bakery in Nashville for breakfast, so that's what I had, along with some cream cheese and a couple of glasses of fruit punch from the continental breakfast bar. Mom had two donuts, a bagel and some coffee.
Once we were done with breakfast, we decided to go to Epcot for a while, then go to Disney-MGM Studios, and go to Animal Kingdom the next day. Then on our last day, we would come back and spend an entire day at Epcot. For some reason, I love going to Epcot first. If I don't go to Epcot first, I spend the rest of the trip wanting to go to Epcot. I just love the atmosphere of it, and we've made it our tradition to watch Food Rocks before we do anything else.
Once we got to Epcot, mom had to buy another annual pass, since hers ran out last July. It didn't take very long, and pretty soon we were on our way to Food Rocks. Once we got there, there were very few people in line, but a show had just started, so we had to wait about 10 minutes. In the meantime, we walked around the Green Thumb Emporium, grumbling about how there should be Food Rocks merchandise. Even something simple, like fridge magnets. Well, we watched the show, but decided to come back to Living with the Land later in the week.
After leaving the Land, we went over to Test Track to see if it was up and running, but we were told to check back around 2:00 because it would probably be open then. When we left, we saw Fletch the Crash Test Dummy and said hello. When I asked if he was gonna ride Test Track, he looked terrified and shook his head no. Heh...maybe the dummy's got the right idea.
So while we were on that side of the park, we decided to hop over to Wonders of Life and ride Body Wars and see Cranium Command. While we were in line for Body Wars, I noticed that a guy a few people in front of us looked a heckuva lot like Robin Williams. Anyone know if Robin Williams was in Disney World that weekend? After we were done with Body Wars, we took in Cranium Command, which is an Epcot favorite of mine.
As we were leaving, mom wanted me to pose my Tourist Mickey in the wall sculpture near the exit. So I was situating him when an older man and woman came up to us and started asking what we were doing with Tourist Mickey. (If you don't know my story on what I have been doing with my Tourist Mickey, stop reading right now and look at my web page) We told them that we had taken him all over Disney World and had taken 179 pictures of him in every situation you could imagine. The lady thought it was really cute, and she kept pinching Mickey's cheeks, saying "Lucky beanie...lucky beanie..."
The man asked us if we had seen the hidden Mickey in the Body Wars mural, and when mom said no, he took her over to show it to her while I and the lady took my picture and chatted about this and that. She asked me if I had ever been to Tokyo Disneyland, and then told me that she had heard that Disney was opening a park in Honk Kong, which I gather is where she was from. She told me that I needed to take Tourist Mickey to Japan, and I said that if I ever made it to Japan, I was sure he would be with me. When I told her that I was already planning a trip to Disneyland in 2004, she told me to make sure that I took Mickey there too, and I said that I would.
Just then, mom and the man showed back up (ya know, we never asked them what their names were...) and mom said that she wanted me to take a picture of the hidden Mickey. We said goodbye to our new friends, and went to take a picture of the hidden Mickey.
After we were done there, we decided that it was time for lunch. I had decided quite a while in advance that I didn't want to leave Disney World without eating Mickey shaped pizza, so we went straight to Pasta Piazza. I confirmed with the CM at the register that they were, in fact, Mickey shaped and she said that they were. I ordered a cheese one and mom got a pepperoni one. They were yummy. We even took a picture of them before we ate them.
After lunch we went to the Living Seas. Not much going on there, as usual, but I soon found myself completely hypnotized by the shrimp culture. I probably watched it for 10 minutes before mom made me leave (hey, that's not anything compared to the time I watched eggs hatch for two hours at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry!). When we went to the gift shop, I was looking at the stuffed animals and fell in love with a stuffed otter holding a starfish that cost $30. I said that if I had an extra $30 at the end of the trip, I was going to come back and get him, but I figured that wasn't gonna happen.
When we left there, we decided to just call of going to the Studios and spend the whole day at Epcot. Fine with me. I love Epcot.
We decided that World Showcase should be next on the agenda, so we went off in that direction, forgoing Universe of Energy and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. On the way there, we stopped in Ice Station Cool for a few drinks. Being a glutton for punishment, I made myself drink about half a glass of Beverly. The first sip wasn't that bad, but by the time the last drop was down the hatch, I was seeing stars. Blech!!!
I still hold that my favorite of the beverages is VegitaBeta. It's good, and I've been known to drink whole glasses of it. Lift Pineapple is pretty good too, but it burns my mouth (I'm allergic to citrus). The apple one is weird. The lemon lime is ok, but a bit bitter for my taste. The watermelon is good, but only in small doses. I don't like ginger ale to begin with, so the Krest ginger ale is gross to me. Mezzo Mix cola isn't bad, but not that wonderful, and Beverly is just plain nasty!
On our way across the bridge to World Showcase, we stopped at a sunglasses booth to take a picture of Mickey with Spaceship Earth in the background. While we were setting it up, we met CM Ron, a CM who sells Disney puppets at small booth. We ended up talking for, probably, half an hour. We exchanged web page addresses (he runs a mens swimwear company who has a website at http://heswimwear.com) and talked about everything from the comparison of A Bug's Life to Antz, to the delays with Test Track. At one point he told me that Company D was selling copies of Mulan for $14.49, so I asked how to get there. He gave me this huge list of directions ("You're gonna go right around here, then turn left, then go for a while, then you'll go through this hallway, and there it is...") followed by "You can't miss it!" Yeah, right. Leave it to me.
We said goodbye to Ron and went to find Company D. This was the first time I had seriously gone backstage at Disney World. I'd gone into the Space Mountain control tower on my last trip, but CM Dawayne was accompanying me. So I found the door marked "Cast Members only" and marched my way back there, trying not to look like a tourist, despite the fact that I had my camera in my hand. I asked two people if I was going the right way (one of which I happened to run into later, CM Adam from Test Track) and they both assured me that I was. Once I found it, I had to go through the Cast Member lounge area to get to it. That was kind of weird (not to mention how weird the french fry vending machine was...I had no idea that such a thing existed...), but I managed. Once inside, I bought a green t-shirt that says "Disney Team" on it, two Mulan videos, a pen shaped like Mickey's head, a luggage tag and a car antenna topper of Mickey's head. I got a tad bit lost on the way back out, but I found my way, and I found mom still sitting just where I left her.
After that, we finally made it into World Showcase. The first stop as always was Mexico. We perused the gift shops until we found what we had been looking for...TINY HATS!!!!! I had bought Tourist Mickey a small sombrero with a serape on it last year, but neglected to buy him the matching cowboy type hat. So I found a yellow one that I liked and bought it for him. Meanwhile, mom had chosen the deluxe model sombrero for her Tourist Mickey, complete with sequins and gold thread. We took in El Rio del Tiempo, noticing that our favorite animatronic, "running boy", wasn't running, just turning round and round. I was upset because that's what he was doing when we went in November as well, which shows that there has been no maintenance on this ride in at least four months. Hmph!
Leaving Mexico, we stopped in Norway to ride Maelstrom. Skipped the movie. I was able to justify this because there were no Norwegian CMs inside the theater at the time. They were all either escorting everyone in or out, so I didn't feel quite so guilty. We browsed the shops, but when we found no tiny hats, we moved on.
A tip for the Norway pavilion: Make tiny hats!
Upon leaving the shops, we stopped in the bakery because I had planned on making myself buy some rice cream since I had heard so many things about it. Thing is that no one told me that it has strawberries on top. I love strawberries, but I hate them in stuff like ice cream or pudding. Oh well. I vote this bakery best smelling place in Disney World.
As we passed the China pavilion, we heard that the Pu Yang Acrobats were going to be performing in a few minutes, so we stopped and waited for them. All I can say is wow. Those kids can do stuff that would kill me. Jumping through hoops two feet taller than they are and balancing on each others necks...ohmigosh I was amazed! I am definitely gonna try and see them next time as well. We looked in a few shops, but didn't linger long. Again...no tiny hats.
Tip for the China pavilion: Make tiny hats!
Germany was next, where we gazed longingly at multi-hundred dollar kuckoo clocks and beautiful nutcrackers (mom collects nutcrackers, so she was, basically, in heaven). If I ever get 800 extra dollars, I'm gonna get the kuckoo clock that has the two guys on the front banging their beer mugs on the table.
I could smell the sauerkraut, but I couldn't make out where the smell was coming from. Mmmm...I love saurkraut, but it nauseates my mom. We looked through the stores one last time, and mom decided that she couldn't live without some Mickey Mouse PVCs. She originally had 12 picked out, but then realized that that was gonna cost her more than $30, so she cut it back down to four; English, French, Spanish and Maestro Mickey. Once again...no tiny hats.
Tip for the Germany pavilion: Make tiny hats!
Italy was next, but we didn't spend all that much time there. We looked over the menu for Alfredo's, and it sounded really good for dinner, but it was a bit pricey. By this time, we were getting really hungry, but we couldn't decide where to have dinner. Everywhere we looked seemed either not that appetizing or too expensive. Finally we decided that if we didn't find anywhere to have dinner before we were done with World Showcase, we'd eat at Electric Umbrella, home of the World's best chicken strips. We looked through the shops, but didn't linger. Once again...no tiny hats.
Tip for the Italy pavilion: Make tiny hats!
Once we got to the American Adventure, we were too hungry to want to sit in a theater and watch a show. I love the American Adventure, but our stomachs were leading the touring at this point. We didn't even look in the American shops. We knew there would be no tiny hats.
Tip for the American pavilion: Make tiny hats!
On our way to Japan, we ran across the heralded Kaki-Gori stand. We both bought rainbow Kaki-Goris and sat down in the Japanese pavilion to devour them. They were yummy. We looked at a couple of the restaurants there, but nothing tickled our fancies. On our way out, we were distracted by a crowd forming around a small booth in the middle of the pavilion. On closer inspection, we saw that it was a candy maker named Miyuki making all kinds of amazing creatures out of taffy and putting them on the ends of chopsticks. I guess we watched her for about 10 minutes, until she ran out of candy. We saw her make a dragon, a bird, a panda and an elephant. It was so awesome. We listened to a bit of the drum performance and glanced through the shops. I wasn't expecting it by this point, but once again, we found no tiny hats.
Tip for the Japan pavilion: Make tiny hats!
I'm ashamed to admit it, but we just walked straight past Morocco because we knew that there wasn't a restaurant there that we would be interested in eating in. I assume that they had no tiny hats.
Tip for the Morocco pavilion: Make tiny hats!
We were just about to breeze past France as well before I spotted Belle and Beast in a small courtyard off to the side of the pavilion. I'd already met both of them, but I wanted to ask the CM there if any Hunchback of Notre Dame characters were gonna be coming out. He said that in just a few minutes, Phoebus and Quasimodo as well as Jafar were going to be between France and Morocco. Alright!!!!! We skipped back over to where they would be just in time to catch Phoebus.
When he came out, we were the first ones in line. He was really funny, egging us on to give him compliments about how handsome and funny he was in Hunchback. We played along, and it was so funny! Just as we were done with him, Quasimodo came out, and Phoebus introduced us to him. Quasi seemed very happy that we both love Hunchback. Later we saw Jafar come out and we got an autograph and picture with him too.
As we were walking away, I heard the funniest thing I've ever heard anyone say in Disney World. A woman to her daughter: "Look! There's Hunchie!"
Just struck me as hilarious for some reason.
As we were walking over toward the United Kingdom, I saw a person dressed in a white robe come out a side door. Cool! It was a living statue! I'd never seen them before! We watched him (Could have been a girl...I don't know...I'll say it's a him for simplicity) for a few minutes just standing perfectly still. Finally when some people went to get their picture made with him, he moved. Then I started thinking about how cute it would be if I could get the statue to hold Tourist Mickey and let me take his picture. I asked the CM with the statue if I could get him to hold Mickey, and she said yes.
When I tried to get the statue to hold Mickey, he immediately moved to where his hands were folded. I almost jumped back, but immediately after that move, he moved again and opened both of his hands in front of him. I handed Mickey to him, and he didn't move for a few moments, but then moved and began to cuddle him like a baby. It was so cute. By now, even more people have gathered, so there are probably 100 people or more watching the statue with Tourist Mickey. After a while, I decided to let someone else interact with the statue, so I tried to get Mickey back. Right as I reached to take him out of his hand, he raised his hand away like he didn't want to give Mickey up. I did it two more times, each time moving his hand farther away from me. It was so funny. Flashes were a-flutter with so many people taking pictures of it. Finally, he held both of his hands out and gave him back to me. I thanked him very much and stepped back to let other people get near him.
It was so awesome. I couldn't believe that happened. That's the kind of magic that only Disney can create.
By this point, we had, basically, given up on our tiny hat search.
Tip for the France pavilion: Make tiny hats!
After our encounter with the Living Statue, we walked over to the United Kingdom pavilion in search of dinner. When we passed the Rose and Crown pub, we decided that our stomachs had ached for long enough and we stopped to ask how long the wait without Priority Seating was. The guy said that they could take our party of two immediately. Alright! Can't complain about that! As we were going inside, I heard the wail of the bagpipes off in the distance. I noted that that was probably Off Kilter, who we had never gotten to see. I wanted to watch them, but dinner was the prime directive at the moment.
Once we got inside and began looking at the menu, I was sort of befuddled that there are only four entrees on the menu and about a million beers. We got the fish and chips like almost everyone else we could see. I also inquired about their yard tall beer glasses, and was told that one would be five dollars with beverage included. Sounded good to me. I already have a yard tall glass from a Fourth of July party in Nashville last year, and I really like it, so I wanted one from Rose and Crown as well.
Dinner wasn't bad, though even with a Cast Member discount, I feel like it was overpriced. I'm sorry, but I've had equally good fish at Captain D's for about half the price. And to top it off, my last piece of fish had cartilage shards all the way through it. I couldn't finish it because it was gagging me to think about eating cartilage. Good thing that I had already eaten the other three, else I wouldn't have been able to eat any of it. My dinner total was about $15 including the glass and mom's was about $10. We didn't look for tiny hats, but I assume that they didn't have any.
Tip for the United Kingdom pavilion: Make tiny hats!
As we left the Rose and Crown, we heard the sweet sound of the bagpipes again and were instinctively drawn to it. I love the bagpipes. My mom loves the bagpipes. I absolutely adore kilts. I was in for a big treat.
When we approached the Canada pavilion, we saw Off Kilter playing on a small stage off to the left of the pavilion. I had heard so many good things about them that I definitely didn't want to miss them. From the moment we stopped, I was completely entranced by them. I was in love; head over heels in love with this band.
A few minutes after I stopped, they played a song called "Run run away" during which the audience had to scream "run run away" at the end of each verse. Of course, I was there yelling it at the top of my lungs. I must have either looked crazy or drunk (more likely drunk since I was still drinking out of my beer glass). At one point, I saw a girl run up near the stage to take a picture of them, and before she could take it, the three front guys, Jamie the bagpiper/lead singer, Mark the bass player and Randy the guitar player all huddled together and posed for her. I thought it was so cute that I wanted them to do that for me. So a few minutes after she got her picture, I ran up to the front to take my picture, and sure enough, they all huddled together for me. AHHH!!! So cute!!! Did I mention that I like kilts?
Soon, the whole area went completely black, and Jamie went into a slow bagpipe solo. I was completely blown away. It was so beautiful! He is such an awesome bagpipe player! I love the bagpipes! All I could do was stand there in complete awe. After he was done, the song broke into a livelier beat, which included much jumping, kicking and twirling. Did I mention that I REALLY like kilts? :-)
As the show was ending, I ran up toward the stage for one more picture, and once again, they posed for me. After the show, I started speaking to Mark the bassist, and it seemed like the only thing that would come out of my mouth was "You guys are awesome! I'd heard so many good things about you, and you guys are awesome!" Then I tossed him Tourist Mickey and asked for a picture, so he called Jamie and Randy over. They each grabbed an arm or leg and pretended to be pulling him apart. So cute! Ahh...I love kilts!
We bid a fond farewell to Off Kilter and headed over further into Canada. Actually, we never quite made it into Canada because it was about 8:00 by this time and there were a couple of Future World things we still wanted to do. We passed by Canada, not seeing any tiny hats along the way, and went back to Future World.
Tip for the Canada pavilion: Make tiny hats!
We decided to jump into Innoventions and see if any of the e-mail postcard stations were free. On our way to them, we saw a bluescreen television thing where it looked like you could get interviewed by Jay Leno. After some coaxing, I convinced mom that she should do it since she had been in Superstar Television last May as the person getting interviewed by Johnny Carson. The Jay Leno thing turned out ok, but the timing of it was really off, so any time Jay said a line, it was a few seconds before mom got the cue for her line. If they sped up how fast they give you the lines, it would be much better.
After that, we found the e-mail postcards and sent four or five of them to various people, then decided to catch Spaceship Earth before the park closed. We walked around to the front of Spaceship Earth and got right on with no line. Right as we were getting ready to get off the ride, they had to stop it to let a man in a wheelchair who was about four cars in front of us off. We sat at the unloading dock with the door still closed for a minute or so, but the pepole in the car in front of us decided that they wanted to jump out. When they jumped out of their closed-door vehicle, the CM working there yelled at them, then gave us a look like "Ugh! Can you believe what idiots they are?!?!?!" But we just sat there like good little guests and patiently waited until our vehicle's doors opened.
By this time, IllumiNations was going on, so we decided to go ahead and leave. We got to the car uneventfully, but got turned around on the way back to the hotel. We finally got back at about 10:00, and took care of a few things before we went to bed. We also made new reservations for New Year's Eve (we had reservations at a Villager Lodge, but then they changed to an EconoLodge, and I'm boycotting EconoLodge because of what I saw as age discrimination during a stay of mine last summer, so I didn't want to stay with them any more). We then went back up to the room, got showered, snacked a bit and went to bed.Go to Day 3