Obrins At WDW October 2002 Day 7

Day 7  Thursday, October 24, 2002

This was a day that we spent entirely at Epcot.

We had rather late start, not getting to the bus until after 10.  Of course, last night was pretty late, having done Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, and not getting back to our room until almost 1.

Debbie was out and about even later, so for the first part of the day, it was only Nick and I at Epcot.

When we arrived at Epcot, we immediately went on Spaceship Earth.  Besides the fact that this is my favorite ride at Epcot, I wanted to take another shot at getting some photos.  I thought I’d try the backlight setting on the camcorder, and see if that helped.  It really didn’t much.  The best luck I had
on a dark ride was on the Haunted Mansion last year, using the infrared setting.  But, the false color black and green was fine for the HM, I didn’t really care to use it on SE.

So, I still don’t quite have a good way to get decent photos on a ride like SE.  No, I will never use a flash or external video lighting.

Next, we went on to Innoventions, because Nick had to play Toon Tag again.  Does anyone else
remember the story about how this game was going to be playable over the Internet?  It seems like that never happened, and they don’t talk about it anymore.

Nick is pretty good at Toon Tag at this point, and still really enjoys playing it.  He played for some

time (going back to the end of the rather short line each time).  They were switching CMs pretty fast, and I have to say that the three I saw were pretty lackluster.  I can remember some pretty amusing CMs staffing this, but it may be getting old for Disney at this point.

I watched Nick Toon Tagging for a while, then walked around and amused myself.

I looked at the Segway display.  If you’ve not heard of it, the Segway is that personal ransporter, kind of a two wheeled scooter with a motor, that responds when you lean forward, and kind of bicycle grips for turning.  This is a pretty nice display, with a little interactive computer presentation setup, and an actual Segway there.  You can’t ride one, though ;>). 
I have seen a CM riding one outside near SE.  The Segway itself is more interesting than I had thought.  It can do some pulling of things like luggage carts, and seem to be rather maneuverable.  The biggest problem, though, is that the thing has a 250 pound passenger weight limit.  This is a real shame, as it makes it kind of useless as a mobility device (e.g. a replacement for the ECVs in use at WDW).  It seems like that is a market segment that they should have considered.

This is the kind of thing that is nice to see at Innoventions, though.  Just a tiny bit in the future (if it is successful).  Too bad about that one serious design flaw, though.
I fooled around a little in that forest area.  It was more interesting than I had imagined, but I still wonder if something like this or the health display on the other side of Innoventions really belongs in this venue.  There are plenty of other places where they have biology stuff (e.g. the forest thing could be in the Land, and the health imaging thing could easily be in the Hall of Life).   Innoventions I always think of as being more cutting edge electronic and mechanical tech, especially things that directly impact the consumer.

I forced Nick to watch the Motorola film with me.  I still think this is a fun film, and the instant translator idea discussed is the best use of speech recognition I’ve ever seen mentioned.  The idea is to do speech recognition in one language, use text to text
language translation, then read the resulting text back (in the new language) using speech synthesis.  Since all of these pieces pretty well exist now, it seems like a practical idea.  Otherwise, I’ve always thought speech recognition has a pretty limited utility, as even a mediocre typist can outrun someone dictating into a computer.

A lot of the tech in the film, of course, has now hit the streets, although the smart house stuff (where she talks to the house from the car) isn’t exactly commonplace.  It’s still an amusing little film, though.

We did a little of the Mission Space pre opening display.  Boy, this looks like it is going to be a

fascinating attraction.  I can’t wait to see it open.  Nick was wanting to leave Innoventions at this point, though.

We did stop, however, at the Behind The Magic kiosk.  Nick gets a big kick out of these, and tried to do the kiosk at each park.  I enjoy looking at the displays on the wall back there, with all of Walt’s innovations documented.  You have to admire the fact that a lot of his success was driven by vision and innovation.  Today’s world really isn’t like that, so much success depends on relentless marketing of inferior products (though a few companies, like Apple, may be keeping some innovative spirit alive).

We missed the house of the future while in Innoventions.  I have only done this once, and really enjoyed it, but Nick was getting antsy to go elsewhere.
We pulled a fastpass for Test Track.  It was not quite noon yet, and the return time was 4:00 p.m.!  Well, usually fastpass works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

We went over to the Electric Umbrella.  I had some tasty chicken strips, and Nick had both pizza *AND* a hot dog.  Well, I don’t like to discourage him when he’s actually hungry, and he did finish everything (though we shared his fries).

Nick was counting his rides on this trip.  This was just a unique ride count, riding something twice didn’t add to the total.  Nonetheless, by this point in the trip, he was up over 50 rides.  Of course, he had done a number at Universal, and had done just about everything at WDW except the Tower Of Terror and Triceratops Spin.
While we were sitting at the Electric Umbrella, Debbie and I talked over the cell phones, and we arranged to meet at the Living Seas.  In spite of the slight cost, the cell phones are a necessity to me now on any WDW trip.

While Nick and I were on the way from the Electric Umbrella to the Living Seas, we saw the guys who do the percussion performance on the trash cans.  I got a little film of them, which may make for an interesting video.  They are awfully good.

I also stopped to take pictures of the circles in the sidewalk between Innoventions and the Living Seas.  I just love this little display, which I think most people don't’ even notice.  If you’ve missed it, there are a set of concentric circles, with the innermost

circle being prehistory, and the circles getting later and later as you move outward, the outermost one being the 21st century.  Inside each ring, there are several small brass circles, with a world changing invention or discovery in each.  So, it covers everything from the discovery of fire to the invention of the world wide web.  For each invention or discovery, the person and country of origin are given, along with the best guess at a date.  I just find this fascinating an inspiring.  It makes you think about how huge inventions change our lives.  I snapped some pictures, because I am captivated by this every year.

I had forgotten that the Living Seas hasn’t had a ride through for some time.  But, we had a great time walking around looking at the displays inside the sea
station, watching the little films and so fourth.  I really do think the Atlas film is amusing.  Debbie gets a big kick out of the manatee.  And we all enjoyed the huge tanks, and the great views of the fish, dolphins, and other sea life here.  I tried some film and pictures (fish and dolphin and manatee, as well as some exploration equipment), but the results were not impressive.  I think I actually got better pictures and video in the Coral Reef restaurant last trip.

Nick happened to find a women’s driver’s license in the men's bathroom.  We dropped it off at one of the retail counters in the Living Seas, because we didn’t have any better ideas.  I certainly hope she had better luck getting it back than Nick did with his autograph book.

Considering the autograph book, we really *SHOULD* have put a name and phone number (maybe even cell number) in the front of it.  It was probably foolish not to do so, as we would have had a slightly better chance of recovery.

So, we moved on to the Imagination Pavilion.  We went ahead and rode Journey Into Your Imagination again.  It really isn’t as charming as the original, but we all agree it really beats the more recent revision.

It makes me wonder, though, where they got this idea of the five sense that seems to have stuck in someone’s brain.  Do the five sense really stimulate the imagination.  If you want to really experience an old memory or a flight of fancy, don’t you go into a
quiet room and close your eyes?  Imagination is a spark that comes from within (as the old ride understood), not something that is jammed into your head through your five senses.

When going through the Image Works, Nick found the camera which allows you to composite yourself into various images (such as your face on an animal body).  For some reason, he was really fascinated with this, doing the composites and sending goofy images to people through e-mail.  Now, we have everything he needs to do this at home, but he doesn’t seem interested in doing anything of this nature (the photography, the compositing, or sending stuff off to people in e-mail).  So, go figure.  Maybe he got exposed to a little bit of pixie dust.

Well, after having passed on the laser carved crystal thing earlier in the week, we broke down and did it this time.  I do think it is pretty expensive, though it could have been cheaper if we were more flexible.  We wanted an image of Spaceship Earth with the three of us all included in the crystal.  If we had settled for two of us, we could have gotten two of these for $100.  Instead, the one cost us $150.  I really wish we had just gotten Debbie and Nick, because then we could have had one at home, and another on my desk at work.

Note that they ship these items to you.  I am writing this quite some time after our trip, and we still haven’t seen this item.
They were cleaning the backwards waterfall today.  Too bad, I do enjoy seeing it on.  It was on and off, as I think we saw it on once and off twice this trip.

At this point, we had a minor tragedy.  Nick noticed that his autograph book was missing when we got off of the Maelstrom.  We tried going back to the ride, and the CMs said there had not been one found.  We also tried the front of Epcot on our way out, and the central lost and found at the TT&C a couple of days later.  We had no luck at all (we had once actually recovered a camera from lost and found at the TT&C, so I had some hope).  He had a bunch of characters in that book, as they seemed to be abundant this trip.  He also had the waitress from the Rose and Crown, who had been so tickled that he had asked for her autograph.  It’s a pity.  But, we still have the memories and the photographs.  He did become less interested in photos for the rest of the trip, though.

It was about time then for our PS at Le Celier, so we drifted on over to Canada. 

We had what was probably the best meal of the trip at Le Celier.  I had the New York steak and lobster.  The steak was perfect, and the lobster was even better.  Debbie had the prime rib and lobster, and she reported that the prime rib was every bit as good.  Nick, to everyone's surprise, had pasta.  The cheddar cheese soup was wonderful.  The bread that accompanied the meal, especially the pretzel bread, was terrific.  Then, Debbie and I had crem brulle.  Wow.  What a feast for the senses this was.  (Believe
it or not, the crem brulle was beaten the next day at the Kona Cafe, but that is another story).  Nick had cake for desert, but I am certain that the crem brulle was better.  We also tried some Moosehead beer, which was not bad.  The bill before tip was $134 , but this was an incredible meal.  I usually wince at a meal that breaks $100, but there was nothing to complain about here.  This was a great experience.

Our waitress, BTW, was a sweet little girl from Nova Scotia.  She was very personable, and he service matched the food.

The facades at both Canada and Italy had scaffolding up, as some sort of refurb was in progress.  Too bad, but it’s one of those tiny prices for being here in off
season.  I was a little surprised at Italy, because it wasn’t that long ago (maybe two trips ago) that they were doing a refurb at Italy.

After Le Celier, Debbie headed back for the room, so she had a pretty short day.  Nick and I headed over to the American pavilion.

We actually sat in the domed room where we have heard the Voices Of America perform.  It is a very nice, stately room, and we enjoyed just resting and wandering around a bit, looking at the paintings on the walls.  We also saw the flag that was recovered from the Twin Towers, which is on display here.  This is a moving room, and does convey a sense of our history and heritage.

While sitting here, we heard a bit of the Eat To The Beat concert series being performed outside.  It was good music.

We were really waiting to go in and see the American Adventure, and eventually other people started to queue up, and we went and stood in line. 

This is an extremely uplifting and inspiring show.  It takes a pretty honest look at our heritage, and spends some time on our hardships and mistakes.  But, the overall feeling is that the American spirit lives on, and that we still have great things to achieve.  And it does recognize the successes we have had along the way.  The presentation itself is outstanding, with a very skillful blend of film and some very
sophisticated animatronics.  I always feel good after this show.

Nick and I then headed back down to Spaceship Earth, which was opened until 9 p.m.  We had a great ride here.  I am also inspired by this ride, by what it has to say about the times in which we live, and our opportunities to form communities without regard to time or distance.  The ride was a walk on, and as we were getting off, the ride was closed.

It was, therefore, time for us to head back to Old Key West. We had another good experience with the bus (I think the OKW busses are very reliable).  It was also nice, again, to let Debbie know our status (via the cell phones) as we headed back for the room.
I have to mention how we managed our Internet access this trip.  One of the great things about traveling with the laptops is the ability to check and send mail, and ot do a little surfing if I really feel the need.  But, we have broadband (cable modem) at home.  And, since our last trip, AT&T had changed their on the road access offering to something very unattractive.  But, I found something that is the perfect road companion for someone who has broadband at home.

The service is called MyFreeI, and can be signed up for at myfreei.com.  It is perfect for me, for a lot of reasons.  First, to sign up for it is a $5 fee.  But, you don’t get charged at all after that unless you use the service.  In other words, for most of the year it just sits dormant, and doesn’t cost me a dime.
But, when I’m on a trip, I may use the service for a few hours.  The first 10 hours each month are free.  So, even on a WDW trip, I don’t end up using the service for 10 hours, and it doesn’t cost me anything.

But, if you go over 10 hours in a month, the fee is $1 per hour up to 10 hours, then it’s free again.  So, the most it would cost, even if I heavily used it for some odd reason on a trip, is $10.

And there is no software to install, it just uses standard dial up networking.  On the Mac, this is a big advantage, as a lot of services require special software and don’t bother to support the Mac. 

Believe it or not, that is how AT&T’s on the road offering is now.

Well, enough.  This is off topic, but it is just so perfect for someone whose ISP isn’t available on the road (e.g. a broadband customer).  Also note that they have access numbers in Orlando, and I had no trouble dialing out (the OKW phones have a data port).


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