|Day 2, Saturday, October 19, 2002.
This was a day that we spent entirely at Epcot. The Garden Grill and the Rose And Crown were probably the highlights of the entire day.
I was frustrated to find upon dressing this morning that I had forgotten to pack a belt (my shorts needed one, but the sweats I had worn from Colorado had a draw string). This turned out to be a very aggravating thing to do without, as the whole trip I was constantly making self conscious tugs and adjustments (it was too hot for the sweats while we were at the World). We had no luck, either, finding a belt at any of the shops where we stopped. Now, with all of the massive retail business going on here, you would think something as practical as this would be available. The only belts we found were in a shop on Main Street, and their size selection was woefully limited.
||So, what I'm saying is, don't
forget your belt.
We had wonderful weather again today, and this set the mode for the entire trip. This may be the best weather we have had on any trip (we had one trip in February that was awfully good). Today certainly gave us nothing to complain about. It was warm, but not really hot. It was sunny and there was no rain, although it was humid. It was nearly perfect, weather, really. I think October may be a very good weather month.
We were at Epcot by 9:30, thanks to the very snazzy bus service from OKW. The bus service all week was stellar, with only one unfortunate incident coming back from the Magic Kingdom one night that involved troubles with the handicap loader. Overall, I think the OKW bus service is as good as we have had at any resort, and better than most. We had nothing to complain about here.
|While waiting for the bus, we
snapped a couple of shots of the lighthouse at OKW. It's a picturesque
little icon, and we sat in front of it every morning as
we waited at our bus stop.
There was virtually no one in Future World. Everything we did was a walk on, except for Test Track. Even TT was not really a terribly long wait--it was extended by an inspection.
Crowds were generally light all week as well, but there were notable exceptions. I think October may be a very good month from a crowd standpoint.
||We were eating a lot of walk
up snacks today and through most of this trip, especially ice cream and
soda. The heat and humidity did kind of drain you (even though we've
been here when it was much hotter), and that ice cream bar or soda can really
hit the spot. It's not cheap, though.
We headed straight onto Spaceship Earth when we got to Epcot. I tried some digital stills with the Sony on SE, but they just came out far too dark. Naturally, I would never consider an external light or flash in this situation. I did try again later in the week with the backlight set. It did slightly better, but not great. I could have used the night shot (Infrared), like I did in the Haunted Mansion last trip. That was pretty good for the eerie HM, but I didn't think it would be the right mood for SE. I did get one or two fair shots, but most were just too dark. At least with digital photos, it's just some bytes on the hard drive, and you toss them out if you don't care for them (especially if you have your laptop, and are able to empty your cards at night).
|SE was again a lovely, inspiring
ride. I just don't get tired of this one. The beginning, folks,
is really not that bad. I do miss the mood setting that the many
voices did. But, the warnings about the turning vehicles, though overdone,
are done with a high tech flare. The vortex shots and animations
are really tolerable. I don't find the change really objectionable.
The sweeping story of SE and the sense of how communication has evolved and radically changed our lives left me uplifted and inspired again.
After the ride, Nick played briefly in the Global Neighborhood. We messed a little with the Story Teller Phone and the compass/tree thing (whatever that is called). It's fun stuff, but the network surfing "ride" is sorely missed.
||We were then off to Innovations
West. We did a few postcards at IBM (always a lot of fun), then briefly
looked at the "wearable computer" thing. This was a head mounted display
that gave you the same information as a full size computer screen.
Debbie said that she didn't get the point, and I'm not sure I did either.
Overall, there wasn't much new in the IBM area, and we didn't spend a great deal of time there.
We went through the Luxon home theater demonstration, though we had done this once before. Since the last time we went through, I have found a remote (a powerful but expensive little box from Sony) that solved all of my remote problems, so I didn't quite look at the one in the demo this time with the same envy. Ironically, we have put in some of the lighting effects mentioned in the demo with our home automation system (and it is kind of nice). The one thing I was reminded that our home system still doesn't have is the great bass response they show here, and it does make a difference (the bass booster sure made a huge difference on our computer audio). We do have the surround speakers, but we might think about adding that fifth speaker to finish out the audio experience.
|Anyway, except for the final theater
section, what we saw here is actually pretty close to what we have in the
house now. I guess part of the point of Innoventions is to show stuff
that is just around the corner. So, real life does catch up.
We then stopped by the Disney Interactive area, which has taken the place of the defunct Dreamcast area (or does anyone else even remember that?) Nick was kind of unimpressed with the whole DI area, pointing out that a lot of the stuff was Playstation oriented, which is a system we don't have. I did find some Mac supported stuff in there, though. Debbie and I did OK on the Monsters, Inc. game, which is available on the Mac (OK, Debbie did all right, I just goofed around).
We kind of skipped the biotech stuff in Innoventions, as my interest wasn't that great, and Debbie and Nick were getting restless.
||After Innoventions, we wandered
over to the Land Pavilion. This was the most time we spent in the
Land in quite a while, and it was well worth it.
We did the ride, which is really rather different than I remembered. Of course, I still remember the old John Denver soundtrack, so I may be really out of date. The dark portion of the ride is OK, but the greenhouse portion is pretty fascinating. The enormous pumpkins, the hydroponics and airponics are really intriguing. It's interesting to hear about the real research that is going on around here. I find the fact that real research is going on here and at the Living Seas to be interesting, considering this is just a "theme park".
|We also did Food Rocks, which
didn't impress Nick. I think it's almost campy, sort of fun, albeit
a little preachy. But, it's not the best thing in the park.
But, we were very impressed and surprised by the Garden Grill!
OK, I have read about the Garden Grill, but never quite got what was said. It is very, very cool. It's got characters, great food, wonderful service, detailed panoramas, and even a slow moving ride (the inner hub of the restaurant, where you are seated, rotates, so that you are treated in turn to each of the panoramic views). This is like every aspect of Disney rolled into one experience. And I don't know if we hit them on a good day, but they were certainly at the top of their form.
||The food consisted of a variety
of dishes served family style. There was a very tasty flank steak,
turkey, wonderful fresh veggies (they say straight from the greenhouses),
some excellent bread, a delicious salad (it was an extra fee, but worth
it), tasty mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. I'd comment on the
mac and cheese, if Nick had let us have any.
We also had the pumpkin cheesecake for desert. This is seasonal, they had just started serving it that day. It was absolutely amazing. I later in the trip
had the pumpkin cheesecake at another restaurant, but it was not the same as this.
|The panoramas that slowly change
as you enjoy your meal consist of a rain forest, a desert (complete with
a low hanging sun and a distant sandstorm), an American prairie (complete
with buffalo), an American farm (with scarecrows and pumpkins, and lamps
flickering in the window of the farmhouse), then a bright painted mural
and a view of the front of the pavilion. Sounds a little like the
ride, doesn't it?
The characters are Mickey, Chip and Dale, and (a very clever) Pluto. Everyone is in farmer's outfits. We had a great time interacting with some very enthusiastic characters here, and got some great photos. Nick was busy filling his autograph book.
||I tried to get some pictures of
the panoramas, but they came out far too dark to be useful. I didn't
try to use the backlight here, that may have helped. It's too bad,
because I found these scenes to be well detailed and creative.
This place was a blast. We will be back again, and I would certainly recommend it.
We just walked up to the counter, BTW, no PS. I know that we had tried on another trip to get into the Garden Grill, and there was a horrible wait, so we
passed. I think we were enjoying the benefits of a light crowd day in Future World (like any other popular place, you should probably really consider PS here, I think we were lucky).
|This was probably the most fun
we've ever had in the Land.
Our next stop was the Imagination Pavilion. The new Journey Into Your Imagination ride is definitely better than the most recent incarnation, and is, in fact, a pretty enjoyable ride. Nonetheless, it is not as good as the original. I guess that I am just echoing what most everyone else has said. The
inclusion of Figment here is clever and amusing, but the theme of the old (original) ride was just better. The "stimulating the imagination with the senses" idea seems to be what is stuck in the designers' minds, but the original ride talked about how imagination creates art, music, poetry, scientific innovation, etc. In fact, that is the real point, which the designers currently seem to be missing. Oh, well, the last incarnation was dismal, this is certainly better.
||The smell thing is cute, and the
ride finale is really quite good. Definitely a ride worth doing,
but we all miss the original.
We then spent some time in Image Works (the interactive area as you exit the Imagination ride). Nick really had a great time conducting the orchestra. I rather enjoyed the lenticular photographs hanging on the walls, particularly the one of the sun and the light bulb. Nick found this little video stand that takes your picture in real time, and puts out a kind of fun house mirror distorted image on a video screen. He had a great time playing with that. We also tried the time distortion thing, but we couldn't get it to work properly right away, and people were queuing up, so we gave up.
|We looked at the thing where they
burn your image into a crystal cube with a laser. It is very cool,
but we thought it was rather expensive, especially if you want three people
in there with an Epcot image. They were running a pretty good special
for a two person image with an Epcot image, and not a bad deal for a three
person image with no Epcot image (I didn't see the point of that), but what
we wanted was pricey. So we passed. For today. Stay tuned.
Debbie commented that the purple pigment on the Figment plushes seemed a little washed out. So, we kind of passed on any Figment merchandise on this round.
||So, next it was Honey I Shrunk
The Audience. What a great show this still is! After the huge
number of times we have seen it, I still laugh every time, especially when
the special effects catch first timers off guard. It's a funny little
film, with some of the best 3D and audience effects around. We enjoyed
it all very much one more time.
BTW, I still really enjoy the pre show, though Nick is getting a little bored with it.
The backwards waterfall was shut down, a couple of days later they were cleaning it. The jumping water pads were running, and I caught some video of it, which I have never before done.
|At this point, we took a turn
on Test Track, which was the only long wait of the day. It was too
late in the day to really pull a Fast Pass. At some point in the queue,
they actually made an announcement about shutting down the ride and extending
the wait for some type of inspection.
I still didn't really find this wait intolerable (I think it was less than an hour), but it really grated on Debbie.
This queue is a lot of fun, though. I enjoyed looking at all of the high tech smashing and breaking. And it was nice and cool inside the building.
||Everything on our ride worked
perfectly, even our in car status screens. I realize it is a small
thing, but it's one of those Disney details that makes the ride a lot more
fun, and it's annoying when it is not functioning. Our test, BTW,
was ordered by Buick.
The combination of the humid weather and the wind on the victory lap seems to have made my hair come to attention. We didn't get the picture, but Debbie and Nick were certainly giving me a hard time as we were loading off the ride and walking to the showroom.
We skipped Dream Chasers this time, but did spend a little time in the showroom. It is a fun little bit of high tech marketing, isn't it?
|We sat for a while in the little
area between SE and Mission Space, eating heath ice cream bars (quite good),
and enjoying watching people go by. I wandered over towards the Mission
Space construction, and snapped what I consider to be some pretty nice
photos. It is coming some time in 2003, I believe. In addition
to the large red planet (Mars), there is a nice little model of Earth with
a spacecraft speeding away from it.
Next, we all did Ellen's Energy Adventure. This is another show that is funny and enjoyable every time. Nick ought to know this subject by now. At one point when we first started coming here, this was his favorite show, and we have seen it plenty. We all still enjoy it, and the dinosaur animatronics here are the best dinosaurs we've seen anywhere.
||Nick and I went into the Wonders
Of Life, while Debbie relaxed on a bench outside. I do like the enormous
DNA molecule outside of Wonders Of Life, and the pavilion is pretty inside,
with that sweeping view as you first enter.
We hadn't been on Body Wars in quite a while, and found it rather a rougher ride than Star Tours. The effects are good, and the story is pretty good, though
weaker than Star Tours. It was a lot of fun after not having done it for a while.
I do have a question for an unnamed stranger. Would you be wearing your cowboy hat in a theater? Wouldn't it occur to you that someone behind you wanted to see the screen?
|We also did Cranium Command for
the first time in a while. This is a fun little show, although not
a "see every time". The ideas are cleverly presented, and
the animatronics are pretty good, as is the multi screen presentation. The celebrity appearances, including Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, George Wendt, Bobcat Goldwait, and John Lovitz are all rather enjoyable. The pre show is definitely a kick, leaving us all with the question "Where do you think you are? Disney World?"
Nick really got excited about that little exercise cycle thing with the video that plays at the speed you are riding.
||When crossing from Future World
to World Showcase, we saw what appeared to be some wild turtles in the
pond just as you leave Future World. It was very cool, with the monorail
track reflected in the pond, and an occasional monorail zipping by, to
watch (and snap some video) of these big turtles swimming around in the
water. Just a bit of serendipity.
I also was pleasantly surprised by the topiary of Lady and The Tramp eating spaghetti. I suppose that may have been there for the Food And Wine festival.
|Ah, we found out where all the
people were who weren't in Future World. They were in the World Showcase
at the Food and Wine Festival. WS was really packed. It was a big
contrast with Future World, and I wonder if that's a pattern. A food
and wine day may be a real good day to visit Future World, but not such
a hot day if you were wanting to do things in WS.
The lines at the Food and Wine booths were very long, and the portions, from what we could see, looked kind of small. The lines killed it for me, though, I just didn't want to invest the time in this, we have so many other things to do. So, we trudged along to the UK.
||(Food and Wine lines were shorter
later in the week, and we indulged a bit. Today was a Saturday,
As we passed Canada on the way to the UK, Nick asked one of the CMs at the little stand if the little metal sticks were boomerangs. Um, no, Nick those are miniature hockey sticks. Neither I nor the CM could figure out what boomerangs would be doing in Canada.
We spent some time in the UK, and spent a bit more time here when we came back to this pavilion before dinner.
|Nick found Pooh and Eyore in one
of the shops. I'm not sure which one, but it is right on the corner
as you enter Tudor Square. The set up now seems to be that the characters
are standing in this designated area, complete with a little \painted
cardboard backdrop that goes with their story. You queue up to
have your picture taken and autograph signed. You can still take
your own pictures, but they have a CM with a nice camera there taking
shots as well. They give you a card with a number on it which allows
you to look through prints at the front of the park on your way out (all
very similar to the landscape photos by the Tree Of Life, for example).
I was very satisfied with the way my own shots were coming out, so we didn't
pick up any of the professional ones (with the characters).
I bet you could get some very nice shots this way, though.
||Nick was greedily collecting autographs
this trip, so it gave us something to do at each of the WS pavilions--see
if there were any characters here. It's a
darned shame about that book. But, with or without a momento, he still has the experience and the memories (and a bunch of photos, after all).
At one point, Nick ran through the little hedge maze by Tudor Square, and we found the hidden path back out to the main street, with the secluded seating
area and the chrysalis display. It was fun exploring and relaxing in the UK area. There is a lot of detail in the pavilion, and we seem to always enjoy spending some time here.
|After our first stop at the UK,
we went down to France. We enjoyed watching people interact with
the Living Statues, and I took a couple of pictures of other people's
kids. Nick didn't want to wait to get a picture here this time, he
was looking for characters he could get an autograph from.
We found Beast in one of the shops in France, again with the cardboard and the camera CM. We got a nice photo, but Beast was not able to sign.
We passed through France pretty quickly this time, but it struck me again as being a very pretty pavilion.
We found Aladdin in a back room in Morocco. Aladdin was very affable, and interacted with Nick very well (you probably know that Aladdin is a "face" character). I recall that he wrote "to Prince Nick" in the autograph book.
||While we were hunting for Aladdin,
we caught a little bit of Mo Rocko, or however they spell it, in the street
right in front of the pavilion. The music was very good, and the dancer
was better. I was at the back of the crowd, but got some very passable
video by using the swivel screen on the Sony to shoot "over my head".
This was very enjoyable.
The theming in the back streets of the Moroccan pavilion is truly amazing.
We then took the boat back to the front of WS (towards Future World) for some reason. I told Debbie that it wasn't going to save us any steps, because we would still have to walk back up to the UK. She told me she felt like a boat ride.
|Anyway, it was fun and relaxing.
But, what was really cool was the sun low in the sky, and clouds and water
when we were waiting by the Moroccan boat dock. It was gorgeous,
and I took a couple of shots to try to remind us of it later. One
of those pretty, relaxing moments that make you say, "Man, I'm having a
We then walked back up to the UK, and waited around for our PS time. There were a lot of people trying to walk up to the Rose and Crown, but our PS's worked out perfectly. As I said, it was fun relaxing in the UK while we waited for our buzzer to buzz.
BTW, they are back to standard restaurant "coaster buzzers". The little PDA that had the UK facts on it seem to be gone.
||The meal at the Rose and Crown
was perfect. Our seating was perfect. The weather was perfect.
The food was perfect. The service was perfect. Illuminations was perfect.
The sound was perfect. Did I mention things were perfect? Perfect.
We sat on the very end of the patio, right on the water. It was a beautiful night, and this was the perfect spot.
They were very busy, but our waitress was very attentive, friendly and responsive. We even got a little chat with her about her home in England, and the 8 months she had spent here so far. She was just four months from finishing her year here (that seems to be the standard work visa arrangement).
|Nick got her autograph, and she
was tickled. I was sad to loose that one, but it was fun to see
her reaction, and we will remember her (Laura).
I had the prime rib and the barley soup, and Debbie had the same. The prime rib was excellent. Nick had Mac and cheese. Debbie and I also had the mushroom medley as an appetizer, which was much better than I remembered. We even had a nice little beer.
I had the lemon sorte desert, which consisted of some wonderful fresh berries over a lemon custard.
Illuminations is a wonderful show. Again it's one of those shows that is uplifting and inspiring. It's also just plain gorgeous. Of course, our view was exceptional, as was the sound and the clear night sky. We felt like we were in the middle of it, as the breeze carried some of the smoke wafting back our way.
||We didn't actually get desert
until after Illuminations (I was still enjoying my prime rib during the
show). We sat in the Rose and Crown so long that the post
Illuminations music had actually stopped. That was the latest I've ever been in WS, but we still weren't the last ones out of the Rose And Crown.
We enjoyed the warm, wonderful night as we walked casually back to the bus stop at the front of Epcot. We had a pleasant and uneventful bus ride back to Old Key West, although it was quite crowded.
|Back at OKW, I spent a few minutes
on the Power Book, fiddling with my trip notes and downloading photos from
the two cameras. I was a little disappointed at the overall crop
of photos, but there were some pretty nice ones in there. The nice
thing about digital is that you don't have to keep anything that you don't
like, and you can shoot a bunch of pictures with no real extra cost (especially
if you have a machine with you, so that you don't have to worry about filling
That was about as close to perfect as a day can get, even at WDW. I may have to find a new word, though.
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