Day 4, Monday 3/19/01
This was a day that we spent entirely at the Magic Kingdom. Our day was actually disrupted a little by Nick's illness, but we had a pretty full day at the MK overall.
Yes, Nick got sick. We kind of thought that his allergies might be acting up in the morning, because the room was very dry (were they running some kind of dehumidifier?). But, after his malady spread to all of us in the group, we decided he had come down with something.
I do remember a girl (a guest) at the All Stars with a dry, hacking cough. Since this was the signature of this ailment, I guess it was making the rounds at WDW. Well, sailor's luck. It did cut down a little bit on our schedule, but we managed to have a pretty full trip, nonetheless.
Anyway, instead of making rope drop at the MK on early entry, Nick, Debbie, and I had breakfast at the Kona Cafe. We were checking if he would be better away from the room (allergies). But, he didn't improve.
Nonetheless, we had a great breakfast. I found the Kona Cafe to be a really neat little coffee shop. We ate here several times, and never at Ohana's. I had the feeling you really needed PS's for Ohana's--it was always busy. We ate at the Kona Cafe when we were at the Poly, and were grabbing a meal we hadn't scheduled. The food was good, the service wonderful, and the setting next to the lobby's tropical plants was cool. I also enjoyed the decor--the hidden Mickey's in the overhead grate work, the palm frond fans, and so forth. This is an understated but really enjoyable place for a quick bite.
This morning, I tried the Tonga Toast for the first time. It is everything they say it is--fantastic! Nick tried it as well, and enjoyed it, but didn't seem to like the bananas. Aren't the bananas the point? Well, it's pretty sweet with or without bananas, and the sweetness appealed to that nine year old. I loved it, though, bananas and all.
Debbie and Nick headed back to the room, to try to recover some of his energy. Since he knew this was the MK day, he was broken-hearted. But, we swirled the schedule later in the week around a little bit, so that he got a tad more time at the MK. Again, I think that is part of the point of obsessive planning. You can react to the unexpected, and do it while knowing what the change of plans costs you.
Jan and Patti hadn't joined us for breakfast, as I had relayed Nick's problems to them. They went ahead to the MK without us. We coordinated via cell phone, and I arranged to meet them at the MK.
Yes, Debbie is a doll for going back to the room with the sick kid.
But, she usually gets her fill of the parks before I do, and sometimes
it's just Nick and I at the parks while she's back at the pool. Not this
|The moment I got to the MK, I went on the Haunted Mansion, of course.
Best ride in the parks. I had a nice ride this time, no unexpected incidences.
I got a chuckle out of a couple of kids behind me, riding with their parents,
who were just a little afraid of what must have been their first ride.
On my way to visit the grim grinning ghosts, I saw Patti and Jan in front of Liberty Square. They went to Pirates of the Caribbean while I went on Haunted Mansion. We then met up near Splash Mountain and got a fast pass.
While we were waiting for the Fast Pass time to come up, we had an early lunch at Pecos Bill's. I had a very nice hamburger. While we were eating (outside), Patti and Jan were fascinated with this blue eyed stork who was begging around the tables. They really shouldn't be encouraging him but so it goes.
After our nice little meal, we went ahead and cashed our Fast Pass for
Splash Mountain. Another example of Fast Pass time well used, instead of
wasting time standing in some line.
Jan surprised us. She really liked Splash Mountain. She referred to the animatronics as "very clever", and didn't really mind the drop and soak that much. We didn't think that Jan would be much of a thrill rider, but she surprised us several times this trip.
We had a great ride on Splash Mountain, but missed the picture. There was some delay between our splash down and our disembark (the ride stopped for a while), and we also were delayed by Patti struggling a bit to get the ECV out of the ride area. Too bad, it would have been great having Jan's expression on this.
The ECV rental for both Epcot and the MK worked very well indeed. Despite some problems with the batteries, Patti and those ECVs got along very well.
Patti and I rode together on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The rule was that she could go in the handicapped entrance (which is basically the normal exit) with one guest, if we rode together in the last car. We actually fit pretty well, and I got a little extra airtime because we were in the back car, and the safety bar wasn't quite snug on me. It was a wild and fun ride. Afterwards, Patti seemed determined to get back on the track with just her ECV! She was having a little trouble navigating right then for some reason, and headed straight for the tracks, to the gasps of the onlookers standing in line on the other side. She recovered at the last moment, and everything was fine (actually, she probably wasn't that close. It was exciting for a minute, though).
Coming out of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I had a conversation with Debbie on the cell. Nick was feeling much better. Once again, I was glad to have the cell. Deb Will's WDWIG was really what got me thinking about taking ours with us, and then I talked Debbie into it. Over and over again, we were glad we had the phones, though we wondered what the roaming and LD charges would be like.
I am certain that at some point during the morning, Patti, Jan and I got in a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. Everyone got a big kick out of this ride. It is a classic, wonderful, dark ride, brimming with Disney ingenuity.
We had rain on and off all day, and it was pretty cold. But, we must have been saving up points in the good weather bank, because our cruise weather was perfect. I'd still rather have a little rain and cold then the constant rain we had when we went in the summer, though.
We arranged to meet Debbie and Nick by the Jungle Cruise. Jan, Patti, and I went ahead and rode on the Jungle Cruise, figuring we would meet up with Debbie and Nick on our exit. We got a skipper that I thought was OK, but Jan really enjoyed him. It was a fun cruise, regardless. Naturally, the Jungle Cruise is always fun, but how fun depends upon the skipper.
It just occurs to me that there are a lot of places--Whispering Canyons,
the Jungle Cruise, the Prime Time, the Great Movie Ride--where the experience
depends as much or more upon the live CMs as it does upon the skill of
the Imagineers who created the architecture and the attraction. Maybe that's
one other thing that makes Disney so special--the real live people play
as central a role as the electronics and the drops and thrills. And we
have managed to run into some great CMs on our trips.
|We met up with Debbie and Nick, and we all stopped by the Tiki Room.
By now, the rain was pretty serious, and it was nice to be under cover.
I have to tell you that although I do miss the old show a little bit, I
find the new Tiki Room to be very funny and modern. Once again, I was impressed
by the lifelike articulation on the goddess of disaster. And the Tiki Gods
really do win in the end, right?
We headed over to Tomorrowland, pulled a fast pass for Space Mountain, and took cover from the rain under the roof around the Lunching Pad. We all had a light snack, and then Debbie, Nick, and I went on the people mover. Nick really seems to enjoy TTA. It does provide a neat little overview of Tomorrowland.
As soon as the window opened for our Fast Pass on Space Mountain, I
went and snagged a Fast Pass for Buzz Lightyear. Them, our time riding
Space Mountain counted as time waiting in the virtual line for Buzz. And
the time we would have been waiting in line for Space Mountain, we spent
getting a snack and riding TTA. It's all in how you play this Fast Pass
While we were walking along the Space Mountain ramp, Patti's ECV got trapped at one of the low points. She may still have been there if I hadn't given her a push.
We had a fast, fun, ride on Space Mountain. It really is a great ride, isn't it? First time I ever got wet on it, though. Nick was still wearing his poncho. Sitting behind him, I got sprayed the whole time, as the wind whipped the water from his poncho.
Jan commented how much she enjoyed Space Mountain. She was much more of a thrill rider than any of us expected.
After Space Mountain, Jan, Patti, and I went to see Timekeeper. I don't often see this show, and it was a lot of fun. Robin Williams personality comes through, and I like the way they have found to keep the circle vision idea fresh. We all three enjoyed this show very much.
Robin is great, and Jan commented on how humorous he was. This is a nice blend of circle vision, animatronics, and humor. Timekeeper is a nice Disney combo, with a side of Robin Williams.
After Timekeeper (Nick and Debbie did TTA again instead), it was time for our Fast Pass on Buzz Lightyear. I don't recall my score, but I did very well (riding with Nick). Nick did OK. We fought in the early part of the ride for control of the joystick. I do love that funny and imaginative queue for Buzz, but I will still choose Fast Pass for this ride.
We meandered over to Liberty Square for dinner. While waiting for our PS time, we took a ride on the Mark Twain. The rain persisted, setting kind of a misty serene mood. I'd rather have sunshine, but we were making the best of it.
I think I got a couple of good eerie pictures from the riverboat, especially of the Haunted Mansion.
We also had time for a Haunted Mansion ride before dinner. As you already have noticed, the Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride on the property. That's what made this particular ride so infuriating.
There was some bozo with a video camera, two cars behind us. Throughout the ride, his lighting had the effect of shining a flashlight into all of the nooks and crannies of the venerable mansion.
I understand that there is not much the CMs can do about a moron like this. But, one wonders if guest can't follow the rules regarding proper use of video and photographic equipment if it shouldn't be confiscated. I mean, we are obliterating the Disney experience for other guests. It's like throwing trash on Main Street and letting it sit there. People are coming from all over the world for the Disney experience, to have the dark rides ruined by someone like this.
What it comes down to is that the most negative things you can say about Disney World always involve the other guests. This is mostly beyond Disney's control, but it is a darned shame that such people run rampant (of course, I am reminded of our pool experience at the All Stars).
But, not all was ill with the Haunted Mansion. The next trip, later
that night, was a completely different matter.
|After the spoiled Haunted Mansion ride, it was time for our PS at the
Liberty Tree Tavern.
We had a lovely, lovely meal at the Liberty Tree. Although I'm not hot on this place for lunch, we have never been disappointed here at supper time. This may have actually been the best meal of our stay at WDW this trip. There were great character interactions, wonderful food (roast beef, turkey, and honey ham served family style, along with fixings like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese), and great service. Looking at our pictures, we were all soggy from the afternoon, but we had a wonderful time and dried off nicely during this great dinner.
There was a great bit of serendipity too. It turns out that each of the rooms at the Liberty Tree is named for a patriot, and decorated accordingly. We sat in the Benjamin Franklin room. Nick was in the middle of writing a biography about Franklin for school. So, it was a special treat, and we got a couple of pictures he was actually able to include later in his report.
As Nick wasn't up to full strength yet, we made him pick one ride after
dinner before he and Debbie headed back to the hotel. He chose Peter Pan.
|We pulled a fast pass for Peter Pan, which turned out on this rare
occasion to be a mistake. We went on It's a Small World while waiting for
Peter Pan. But, by the time we came back to Peter Pan, we may as well have
gone in the standby line, which was awfully short, and where fast pass
and standby joined saved us nothing. This was probably because of the fact
that the parade was starting soon.
I do really enjoy the Peter Pan ride, particularly when you are first flying over London. It's simple, but somehow enchanting. It's a lighthearted and fanciful ride. Patti stayed with us at the MK (Jan had headed back to the hotel), but didn't go on Peter Pan. Her fault--she missed a chance to see Hook.
I was relieved that the rain let up shortly after dinner. After Peter Pan, Debbie and Nick went back to the room, and Patti and I stayed at the MK.
At least, that's what I thought. I later learned that Debbie and Nick
went ahead and rode Snow White before leaving. Not only that, but they
managed a ride in the front of the monorail on the return to the Poly!
Even though I was a little disappointed in the Poly, I must say that riding the monorail straight from your hotel to the MK and Epcot is wonderful. I'll miss that most of all in our future visits, which will now mostly be at DVC properties.
After Debbie and Nick took off, Patti and I decided to do the Haunted Mansion again. OK, there may have been some coaxing. But, I had to make up for that unpleasant turn--didn't want my last Haunted Mansion trip for a few months to be a bad one. And did we ever make up for it.
We entered through the handicapped entrance, because of the ECV. You basically enter where you would normally exit, and board the doom buggy at the place where you normally get off. That means you get to go around that corner that no one ever goes around! It turns out that it is just a brief pitch black tunnel, and then you are at the normal boarding area. It was cool to find out though.
The other thing is that as we came around the corner to the normal boarding area, there was no one there. I mean no one, there wasn't a soul riding the ride other than Patti and I. Later, we learned that our turn on this ride corresponded to the beginning of the Main Street Electrical Parade. But, what a ride this made! The extra little start, and the ride deserted except for us. What a fantastic Haunted Mansion experience. Quiet, dark, eerie, and beautiful.
When we exited the Haunted Mansion to Liberty Square, Main Street Electrical Parade was well underway. From having seen it before, I'd say we saw the last 75% of the parade. We found a good vantage point near the Mark Twain dock, directly across the street from the Liberty Tree Tavern. There was a little nook where Patti could comfortably park the ECV, I sat on a wall, and we had a terrific view of the parade. Main Street Electrical Parade is a fun and special parade, the lights lending a kind of Disney magic to the whole experience.
We waited quite a while for the Fantasy in The Sky Fireworks to start. We were looking over the castle for the show to start, but had forgotten our perspective. When the fireworks did start, they seemed to be almost directly over our heads. The fireworks seemed to be put on just for us. This was a great, great show.
We rode on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad one more time after the fireworks. In fact, the crowd was very light, and we got to stay on for a second ride. It is a blast in that last car at night. The night was cloudy, so there were no stars (it's a lot of fun to do this when the stars are out). But, there was kind of a mist settling over the ride, which gave an eerie dimension to it.
After the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we headed to the monorail. While waiting in line for the monorail, we caught the tail end of the Water Pageant. It wasn't as cool as seeing it the other night from a boat in the water, but it put the final cap on a nearly perfect Disney day.