I *finally* got our pictures from Disney World scanned in and posted! Jason wrote a big post right after we got back, but we neglected to actually add it to the website. 🙂 So, here is a brief summary of all we did in Orlando.
On Sunday, we headed off to the Magic Kingdom. We got there early,
hoping that they opened the park early, which they do occasionally. They
hadn’t opened it yet, so we had to wait a few minutes. Finally, at 9:00, they
opened the park with their normal fanfare and the crowds streamed in. We got
on the second monorail tram to leave the Transportation Center and headed
toward the park. The crowds at this point were pretty thick, as they were
checking all the bags as people entered. After we passed through the
gates, we paused to have our picture taken in the front of the park, then headed
straight to Space Mountain.
What happened next may shock park veterans. We entered the line for Space
Mountain, and found the waiting line nonexistent, so we ran to the
loading area. We pretty much walked right on to Space Mountain (which, BTW, is
probably the coolest ride at The Magic Kingdom). After we got off that, we did
Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and ExtraTERRORestrial
Adventure, all before about 10:30. The park was, realtively speaking,
deserted. That was fine by us.
One of my favorite home videos to watch is Angela on the Tea Cups (Mad Tea
Party). In this video, she’s 6, maybe, and her eyes are the size of saucers
becuase she and her Mom were going so “fast” (Warren was manning the video
camera). In light of the history of this ride, we made a point to ride it at
least once (we ended up riding it twice). I was able to get a great picture of
her while we were spinning wildly on the ride, and let me tell you: some
things never change. 😉
Over the course of that day, we did, almost literally, everything. We rode
every ride we wanted to (although we missed the River Boat the first day). We
saw some shows (Hall of Presidents, etc.). We met Mickey, Minnie, Eeyore,
Tigger, Pooh, and Pluto. We were just like little kids running around the
park. It was a blast.
For dinner that night, we went to Chevy’s. Some of you may recognize that name
from our honeymoon. In Tahoe, it was a rustic, homey “fresh mex” restaurant
that rivals Ted’s. We loved it so much in Tahoe that we bought a copy of
their cook book. As luck would have it, we found a Chevy’s one block from our
hotel, so we made plans for dinner there. Although not as
rustic as the one in Tahoe (guess they just try to fit in with the surrounding
area), the food was every bit as good. If you’re near one, you have to try it.
Monday found us at Epcot. Epcot, however, doesn’t open until 10:00,
while the other parks open at 9:00. So, not wanting to waste time, we started
our day back in The Magic Kingdom, riding Space Mountain. Having done that, we
hopped on the monorail to Epcot. If you’re into gadgets and gizmos, Epcot’s
the place for you. Again, crowds were sparse so we did everything we wanted
to. We spent a good deal of time in Future World seeing Innoventions, The
Universe of Energy, Honey I Shrunk the Audience (which we highly recommend),
Later in the evening, we headed for the World Showcase to see the Tapestry of
Dreams parade and Illuminations: Relfections of Earth, the nightly fireworks
finale. In the Showcase, we wandered in out of each country. In Norway, we
rode Maelstrom. In China, we watched Chinese acrobats (all children with one
teen) perform amzing feats of flexibility, strength, and timing. In France, we
ate vols au vent, an incredible chicken and mushroom dish with the light and
flaky Frech pastry. In the American Adventure, we watched a colonial-style band
play. The whole area was a very well done representation of cultures from
around the world. It’s also well worth the visit.
The wind that day made it too dangerous for the parade, so it was cancelled, so
we continued to browse through the shops until it was time for Illuminations.
Since we had some extra time, we head back into Future World and to the Test
Track, where we were able to help Disney engineers test their car. If you
make it to Epcot, do not miss this ride. Finally, it was time for
Illuminations, so we headed back to the World Showcase. The show was
incredible. I’ll not give it away, but it’s worth watching.
On Tuesday, we took a break from Disney World and headed to Cape
Canaveral. I’ve always been fascinated by the space program, so I was pretty
excited. We knew, though, that much of the tourist areas were closed down due
to security concerns, but we wanted to at least drive out there and look
around. As expected, there wasn’t much to see, so we got a brochure for the
scrap book and headed to Cocoa Beach. In Cocoa Beach, we went to Ron Jon’s and
browsed for while, then headed to the beach for a picnic lunch. After lunch
and a short walk down the beach, we headed back to Orlando and Downtown Disney.
Downtown Disney is a shopping area with sections called the West End, Pleasure
Island (a reference to Pinnochio), and the Marketplace. There were a plethora
of gift shops and restaurants, and we did our best to see them all. There was a
Rain Forest Cafe in the Marketplace, so we went their for dinner, then headed
to Disney Quest, which is kind of a high tech, arcade-like entertainment
attraction in the West End. There are arcade games (even old ones like Pac Man
and Galaga!) and a virtual roller coaster called Cyberspace Mountain.
Cyberspace Mountain lets you design your own roller coaster, and then ride it
in virtual reality. We made two coasters, but never achieved the elusive 5 rating (the
highest, meaning the scariest). After two times through, though, we felt that
it would be best if we moved on for while. We spent the rest of the evening
there, and finally went home late that night pretty tired.
On Wednesday, we spent the day a Disney/MGM Studios. As you can probably
infer by the name, the theme of this park is the movies. All of the streets
look like they’re from the set of a movie, and the rides were all based on a
movie or TV show. The big ride here for us was the Aerosmith Rock’n Roller
Coaster. The ride starts off with you standing in a room looking into a
recording studio where the band is working on an album. Their manager comes in
and tells them that they’re late for an awards show and that they have to leave.
The band didn’t want to just leave all of their friends (that’s us :), so they
have their manager send us over, in a car that she refers to as a “fast one.”
Leaving from there, we head to the loading zone, where we see our cars: roller
coaster cars that look like stretch limos. Once you get in, you move forward
from the loading area and pause for the countdown, at the end of which you go
from 0 to 60 mph in something like 2.8 seconds. You shoot down a dark tunnel
out into the open yet still dark coaster. It has twists, turns, corkscrews and
loops, and a number of glow in the dark road signs. It was the best ride in the
park. We rode it three times.
Another fun one, although we only did this one once, was the Hollywood Hotel
Tower of Terror. It’s set in a Twilight Zone setting. The story goes that,
many years ago, in the middle of an electrical storm, the two elevator towers
were mysteriously transported to another dimension. The special effects made
the whole thing pretty eerie. Once you get into the “elevator car” and strap
yourself in, they take you up thirteen floors, then let you drop, not once, but
over and over. After they drop you, they pull you back up, and the elevator
door opens, but it’s to the outside. You can see how high you are right before
you plummet again. They bring you back up, and as the doors are opening, you
suddenly drop again. It was a great ride. You can’t miss that one.
We spent the rest of the day riding rides like “Ride Through the Movies” (which
was awesome) and “Star Tours”. We saw a stage production of Beauty and the
Beast which is incredible. We have some picutres that we’ll try to get
posted soon. The whole park was incredible. There’s a lot to do, so be
Thursday was our last day in the parks. We saved The Animal Kingdom
for last, because, having been there once, Angela knew that there wasn’t as much
to do there. Our plan was to spend half a day there, then head back to The
Magic Kingdom. Once we got into the park, we headed for the big ride, Dinosaur.
On this ride, we were going to be transported back to the time of the dinosaurs
for a tour. The engineer running it, however, realized that there was a rare
dinosaur that we could capture, so he was going to send us there instead. The
only problem was that the destination time was right before the meteor shower
that killed the dinosaurs. His boss said it was too risky and vetoed the idea,
but that didn’t stop him. The ride was a fun one with animatronic dinosaurs and
brilliant meteor showers. Be prepared to scream, though. One of us sure did.
After Dinosaur, we strolled casually through the park, making our way through
the Tree of Life for a cool 3D A Bug’s Life show. We also chased elephant
poachers on the Safari, and walked through a petting zoo. At about lunch time,
we left the park and headed back to The Magic Kingdom to finish the week and to
catch the fireworks show we missed Sunday.
Since we had done prety much everything on Sunday, we were able to just stroll
casually through the park. We rode Space Mountain again. The wait was a little
longer this time, but not too bad. We missed the boat ride Sunday, so we did
that. That meant a lot since we had done one in Tahoe on our honeymoon. We did
a little more shopping, and got some more pictures taken with characters.
Specifically, we got another shot with Mickey, with this one being a much closer
shot than the one from Sunday. We finished off the day with one last ride on
the Tea Cups and flight through Never Land on Peter Pan, then went browsing
through shops on Main Street. Just after dusk, the fireworks show started, so
we stood in Main Street, looking down the street at Cinderella’s Castle and the
show overhead. It was beautiful. It was a perfect end to a perfect week.
On Friday, both tired yet happy, we packed our suitcases and headed
to the airport for the long trip home. We were both reluctant to leave, but it
was certainly good to be home. We’ll be back, someday.