Friday, June 17, 2011

Trip Report - Part II

PARKS:  Because we had such a lengthy trip, our schedule at the parks was fairly relaxed.  We planned most days with a break mid-day, early evening, or late morning in order to allow everyone to rest.  Even though we experienced great weather for early June (no rain!), it did get hot mid-day and that can really drain a person.  By about 4 days in, we all really needed a break.  
Day 1 – Arrival.  Didn’t plan any parks on arrival day, instead we hit the pool and the campfire program at the Fort.  Low key day; but we did experience our first and, fortunately, only meltdown of the trip.  We all had been up at 5am that morning and dealt with cars, buses, TSA, planes, trams, and more buses.  With my infinite motherly wisdom, I deemed it too late to stay up and watch the movie after the sing-a-long at which point my four year old lost it and the crying and wailing started and didn’t stop till we got back to the cabin.  Bedtime came soon after…she was VERY tired.  
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom.  Bright and early, arriving a park opening, we beat much of the crowds and were able to get most things accomplished by 3pm.  We missed Finding Nemo (had done that last time), Flights of Wonder, and Expedition Everest.  I used to not like Animal Kingdom very much, but the more I go, the more I enjoy it.  The details are incredible.  Everywhere you look you find the tiniest detail built into the ambiance.  

Like this bike in Asia.
Or these little guys hanging outside Pizzafari.

Check out the fruit and other offerings in this temple.  The fruit looks so real!  Ignore my son being the ham he is.  

I think this is the first trip I was really about to look inside the temple in the Kali River Rapids queue line.  My pictures didn't come out well, but it's just unbelievable how much detail is there.  I especially enjoy all the little odd and ends you'll find in the Everest Base Camp area.  My motto this trip was "Look up" because that's were you find some of the coolest things.  

After an early lunch at Pizzafari we heading to see the Festival of the Lion King.  One mistake we made was riding Kali River Rapids early, as we got soaked and walked around wet for the remainder of the day.  Lunch and FOTLK were quite chilly.  

We left early to relax and dry out before heading to the Hoop Dee Do Review that evening at 7:15.  HDDR was fun, lots of food, lots of wine.  I don’t know if I was hungry or it was the ambiance, but that was the best fried chicken I’ve had in a long time!  I even ate the chicken skin, it was that good.  

Hmmmm….That's some yummy strawberry shortcake!
In bed by 10.  You’ll see a pattern here – even though we brought wine and had plans to sit on the deck for a quiet evening with the adults after the kids went to bed, we never did that.  We were all just so exhausted each night.

Day 3 – EPCOT.  Again, up early, arriving at park opening; our plan was to focus on Future 
World.  Picked up Soarin fast passes, then walked over to the Imagination pavilion to see Journey into Imagination and the return of Captain EO.  I saw Captain EO in the mid-80’s when Michael Jackson was at the height of his popularity.  I respect the show for what it was and how it was developed at the time, and for a limited return, this attraction is OK, but I don’t see it staying too much longer.  Serve it with crackers, because it’s entirely made of “cheeze”.   

Back to Soarin and the Land, then Nemo and Turtle Talk with Crush (always a favorite!).  My son got to ask Crush how fast do turtles swim.  If you’ve seen the show, you can imagine what happens next!  

Lunch at Coral Reef.  Coral Reef’s main drawn is its aquarium, not the food.  The food was OK, but nothing special.  My mom had the pork dish which was so tough she could barely cut it.  She sent it back for the chicken dish which was much better.  This is one of the things I love about Disney is the level of service.  The dish wasn’t right and they exchanged it out without any issue.  The desserts were the best part of the meal. After a 2 hour lunch (this meal just seemed to drag on) we returned to the Fort for pool time.  We had planned to come back to EPCOT but no one wanted to venture back out there that evening, so instead we took a boat over the Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Roaring Forks; and watched the Electrical Light Parade from the Fort Wilderness dock upon our return.  In bed by 10!

Day 4 & 5 – Magic Kingdom days.  I didn’t keep a journal like I had planned and these two days have seemed to merge together.  Day 4, late arrival to the parks, the morning was spent relaxing.  The logic behind a late arrival this day was that the park would be open till 2am.  Not that we made it that late.  Once we got to the park, our focused was on Adventureland and Fronterland with a dabbling into Liberty Square (Haunted Mansion, of course!).  

Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.  This was the best character meal of the entire trip.  Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia, Drizella  and the wicked Step-Mother.  Dinner was an American style buffet.  The food was great and plentiful.  Lots of fresh items to pick from.  The characters came by and spent plenty of time interacting with the kids.  We really enjoyed this meal.  I don’t understand the draw of going to Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom when you can have a similar (and cheaper) experience at the Grand Floridian.

So you're looking for a laughing place, eh?
We'll show YOU a laughing place….
Back to the park afterwards.  We rode Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the dark which is awesome; plus two trips through the Haunted Mansion at night.  There’s just something about the HM at night!  By the way, have you seen the new interactive queue at the HM?  Awesome!!!  At some point I'll put up a post on just that.  

Caught a little of the fireworks from behind the castle; not the best location but was where we were at the time.  Then back to the Fort and in bed by 11.  Woohooo…late night for us!

Day  5.  Magic Kingdom, again.  Up and out earlish.  I don’t believe we made park opening but shortly after.  Focus on Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland.  This was the first day we finally started hitting crowds.  Monday is always a high volume day for MK, but with school officially out for most schools, and people arriving over the weekend, it seemed worse.  We didn’t get as much done as we had hope.  We utilized fast passes as best we could.  We missed Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Peter Pan’s flight, and Dumbo in Fantasyland.  

Lunch at Columbia Harbour House.  I really like this location, and the food is surprisingly good for quick service.  The inside dining room is quite large, encompassing two floors.  There's many little nooks and crannies tucked in throughout the restaurant to create a more private dining experience (as much as that's really possible).  The staff here are some of the best.  The place is kept clean, the condiment bar is always refreshed and in order, orders are placed and served quickly, and tables are wiped down as people leave.  

Dinner at O’hana’s.  Outstanding meal here, as always.  Way, way, way too much food.  Back to the park afterwards with just me, my husband and son.  The grandparents took our daughter back for more pool time.  Our triumph of the evening was getting our 8 year old son on Space Mountain.  In 2010, he refused and started to refuse this trip.  I couldn’t understand it because it loves Rock’n’Roller Coaster.  Once on, he thought it was the best ride ever and we did it a second time!  We left before the fireworks but managed to watch them from the Fort Wilderness boat dock.  Back home and in bed by 11.  

At this point, I think I'll take a little break.  More postings and pictures soon….

1 comment:

  1. Love the pic of the strawberry shortcake. It was a big as she is!