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Friday, June 8, 2012

Live Walt Disney World Report - July/August 2000 - Part 5

Thursday, August 3 and Friday August 4

Sorry for being late with this last post - I've been really busy the last few days.

I started writing this report on Friday, and finally finished it today, Sunday.

Yesterday (Thursday) ended up being such a busy day - and early morning that turned into a long day that turned into a late night - that I was remiss in my duties and didn't post a report. For that reason I'm going to put Thursday and Friday's reports together. Right now it is 4:55 in Saint Louis, MO, and I am waiting for a connecting flight to Orange County (Santa Ana), CA.

Thursday started off with me getting up at 6:45. I did my morning walk again, and then did my obligatory morning session at the conference. The conference ends today (yesterday, ending with the celebration at AK, was the last full day), and all we have are morning sessions that end at noon. After the sessions they gave us a "box lunch", which actually came in one of those old style metal lunch boxes with the logo and graphics from the conference.

During the break for the morning session I dashed out and went to Epcot to get a Fastpass ticket for Test track. Yes, I do plan ahead. By the time I got back to the session I was a little late, but not too bad. The Fastpass time was 12:50 - 1:05, which was perfect. After the session was over I had plenty of time to go back to my room and drop off the session materials before I headed out to Epcot.

After coming through the international gateway I stopped to listen to Clan Terra playing in front of the Canadian Pavilion. When I first got there I sat down on a bench, but it was one that was not shaded by one of the umbrellas that were set up there. The bench was too hot to sit in, so I stood in the shade behind one of the benches. The band was great, and I even decided to pick up one of their CDs as a gift for my wife, Andie. I knew I would be back by there on my way out, so I decided to wait until later.

In case you're interested, I am now on the plane going from St Louis to Orange County.

I'm going to go into rant mode here for a minute. Know, I realize that some people don't have a choice, because of job and school schedules, etc., and they really want to go to Orlando, so they come during the summer. Regardless, I know for a fact that a lot of people go to Orlando and WDW in the summer just because - well, that's when you go on vacation. To anyone who can possibly alter their schedule to come some other time of year, I would ask WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO COME HERE IN THE SUMMER?! I mean, it's CROWDED, it's HOT, and it's MISERABLE. I can really say, in all honesty, as much as I love WDW, that I would never come here on a family vacation in the summer, even if it were the only time we could make it. OK, rant off.

After Clan Terra I went to Test Track, the Fastpass line was about 20 minutes. Before riding, I picked up another Fastpass Ticket - the time was for 5:35 -6:35 which likely meant I would end my day at Epcot with Test Track.

There was a particular picture I wanted to take - of the castle from the bridge leading from Main Street to Liberty Square - and I debated whether it was worth the trip to MK. I decided it was. What I had not taken into consideration was the afternoon parade. The bridge was closed for the parade and the CM at the bridge wouldn't let me in for the 20 seconds it would have taken me to take the picture. I tried to convince him, but to no avail. I thought he was being a bit arbitrary, but what can you do? I didn't want to wait, mostly because I was afraid that it would be much more difficult to return to Epcot after the parade.

OK, I'm going into mini-rant mode this time. I must say, I have a love- hate - no, make that like-hate - relationship with the parades. I think some of them are fun, but in general I think they cause more of a disturbance than they're worth. This is especially true of MK, where people claim their space an hour ahead of time and the parades really mess up the traffic flow. A 20 minute parade can cause a 2 hour mess. The worst right now, however, is not at MK. I am, of course, speaking of Tapestry of Nations at Epcot. Now, I really enjoyed ToN when we saw it last March. But, the fact is that the World Showcase at night is one of my favorite places to be at WDW, and ToN all but ruins WS from 6:00 PM straight through closing. It's more crowded than usual, and the parade route really eats into the walking area at WS, I really hope that, the next time we go to WDW on a family vacation, there is no night-time parade at WS. Mini-rant off.

I made my way back to Epcot. I went to the WS and decided to catch O Canada. I wanted to do this because a) it was hot and disgusting and I needed a respite and b) I've never seen O Canada before. It was a good show. On my way out I bought the Clan Terra CD, and picked up the Off Kilter CD as well. As luck would have it, I could hear Off Kilter playing as I left the store, so I stayed and watched them perform. Next I stopped in the Millennium Village, which, again, we really didn't get a chance to see when we were here last March. I strolled around looking in different displays. I almost rode the Israel ride thingy, but decided against it when I realized how long it would take. I went back to the area where they have little food booths of different ethnic cuisine set up. I was debating between a dish from the Africa booth of spiced ground beef in a tortilla-like wrap, and the Jerk beef from the Caribbean booth. The young lady at the Africa booth offered me a sample, and that made up my mind. That little snack very easily could have been the most delicious single food item I've ever had at WDW.

I headed over to the French pavilion and got a pastry. I don't remember it's name, but it was a chocolate butter-cream whip in a tart. Very delicious. I realized that, if I was going to make it back for my Fastpass time I'd have to just walk through the rest of WS. When I got to the American Adventure I decided to do something else I'd never done before: I took the Friendship to the other side. Staying at Epcot resorts, I have, of course, ridden the Friendships many times, but never across the WS lagoon.

I rode Test Tracvk again - this time the wait was about 10 minutes. I must say that this ride has grown on me. I actually found it to be more thrilling with each subsequent ride. And the queue area is among the most interesting I've seen.

After Test Track I decided to get a head start on the drinking I knew the evening was destined to have in store. I went to the Mexico Pavilion, sat outside at the San Angel Cantina, and had a margarita and some chips. They used to sell Mickey shaped chips that I actually thought were better, but the chips & salsa, and especially the margarita, were still quite good.

It was time to bid farewell to Epcot. As I was leaving I bought a Mickey Balzac ball (It's a ball made of canvas that encases a balloon - they're a lot of fun) for my 3-year old. The weather was looking very threatening. I asked the young lady at the Balzac booth if she thought I'd make it back to the Dolphin before the rain came. She suggested I run. Luckily, I made it to the boat dock at the International Gateway just as the rain started in earnest. A boat came soon enough, but after we were all loaded, the Captain informed us that we would have to wait for the weather to pass a bit. We didn't have to wait too long, though, and soon I was back at the Dolphin.

I was thinking I would have to take a rain parka to Pleasure Island, but by the time I went to my room and made a few phone calls, the rain had subsided. I took the bus to Downtown Disney and decided to get off at the Marketplace stop so I could walk through on my way to PI. By the time I got to PI, of course, the rain had started again. It wasn't too bad, though, and I made my way to the Comedy Warehouse without getting very wet. One thing about the CW that I've never heard mentioned in any report is the way it's decorated. I just love all the old left over WDW and DL paraphernalia. Being a Dl guy from way back I especially loved the signs from old DL events that I remember going to.

The show at CW was very good. In particular, there was a bit where they performed a skit where each of them read lines from different plays while another just ad-libbed, that was particularly funny. I've read a lot on the internet about a CW guy named Layton, who was performing. Personally, I was much more impressed with a guy named Greg. But then, he was also sort of showcased for this show, so he was able to "strut his stuff" a bit more.

After the CW show I went to the Adventurer's Club, which was my main destination for the night. I watched a very silly show in the mask room. I sat in the main room. I watched the show in the Library. I went through the new member induction ceremony. I drank a Kungaloosh or two. Well, OK, I had two. Three would have been overkill. All in all, I had a grand time.

I debated whether I should stay for the New Year's party or leave. I decided that, realistically, if I stayed for the party I would have stayed another hour. So, I decided to leave.

Unfortunately, I just missed a Swan/Dolphin bus. Instead of waiting I hopped on a Boardwalk bus, then I walked room the Boardwalk to the Dolphin. I'm convinced I got back to my room earlier that way.

By the time I got to bed it was almost 1:00. Now do you understand why I didn't get to writing this report before?

Friday, August 4

All right, it's been a long, busy week. I've had very little sleep. This was my last day in Orland, and I have a long trip to California ahead of me. My flight doesn't leave until 2:35, so there's absolutely no reason to hurry to get anywhere or do anything. So, given that, there's only one sane thing to do, right. Of course. So I did it. I got up early, packed my bags, checked out, and headed over to Universal Islands of Adventure.

My goal was to ride all the "headliner" rides, and hopefully hit a few I missed when we were here in March - specifically Dueling Dragons "Fire" and Dr. Dooms Fearfall. I arrived at IOA about 8:45. As I was taking the extremely long walk from the parking structure to the gate, I stopped at an ATM to get some cash. Good thing. For some strange reason the ATM would not accept my card. And I had left my credit card in the car. And I had exactly $4.00 in cash on me. Lovely. I trekked all the way back to the car to get my credit card.

Finally I entered IOA. A had purchased the ticket through the conference on Thursday - saving about 10% - so I didn't have to get a ticket. I immediately checked out the lines at the Marvel Super Hero Island rides - but they were pretty long from guests of the hotels and stuff. Universal has a real mish-mash of line policies, with Fast Track and Express and single rider lines. It seems that the Single rider lines were not available until later, so I decided to come back to MSHI and try our Dueling Dragons first.

The line for Dueling Dragons was very short. I really wanted to sit in the front, but the line for the front seat was long. On the other hand, the way the line works means that the line for the second row in shortest. So I got in line for the second row. Then, when it came time to board, there was a single seat in the front that nobody was taking, so I grabbed it. WOOHOO! I will now go on record as stating that, Dueling Dragons from the front seat is AMONG THE MOST AWESOME ROLLER COASTER EXPERIENCES I'VE EVER BEEN THROUGH! It was absolutely cool beyond words. However, let me state this. Don't get in the front row line if it's prohibitively long. Stay in the regular line and move to the second row. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I will state that the second row is nearly as good as the first. Regardless, I got the chance to check out the second row as well because I rode the Ice side next, and this time I rode in the second row.

Now, the next reasonable question is; which side did I like best? My answer would be Fire. I prefer loops to tight corkscrews, and it seems to me that Fire had more loops than corkscrews. Then again, I didn't exactly take a mental inventory of inversions on each coaster, so my observation may be off.

It was now about 9:30 and already getting really hot, so I decided to make my way back to MSHI via Toon Lagoon. Since it was so hot and the sign said there was no wait, I hopped on line for Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. DDRF is a very well themed flume ride. It's not nearly as nicely themed at Splash Mountain, but it's still nice. The ride itself was a lot of fun, and it is easily the wettest flume ride I've ever been on. After riding it, I was pretty well soaked.

I went back to MSHI and started asking around about Single Rider lines. First I got in the single rider line for The Hulk. After being in the line for a while, I gaged by the rate the line was moving and it's length, that it would be about an hour wait. I decided it wasn't worth it because I had higher priorities. I checked out Dr. Doom's Fearfall next. The single rider line was only a few minutes long, so I got on. OK, I got another mini-rant here. A lot of people who are in parties of more than one get in the single rider lines. Fine. There were two guys in front of me who were together, then three guys in front of them (I don't know if they were together or not.) The CM called out for 4 single riders. The three guys left, but neither of the two guys who were together went because they would have been separated. Folks, if you aren't willing to be separated, DON'T GET IN THE SINGEL RIDER LINE! If the CM asks for four, or two, or one, or whatever, and you are next in line, THEN GO! At any rate, I saw neither of them were going, so I went. Mini-rant off.

Fearfall is a very short ride. You are shot up in the air and then fall back down, sort of bouncing on your way down. That first shot up, however, is a major rush. The regular line for this ride was about an hour. Waiting for about 10 minutes was fine. If it's something you really want to do, I might wait as long as 30 minutes. But I would never wait any longer than that. Not with all the much better attractions beckoning.

After Fearfall I went to check out the single rider line for Spider Man. The CM said that the single rider line was closed because it was too long. She said it wouldn't save me any time, so I figured it must be as long as the posted 45 minute wait in the regular line. I decided that if I had to wait that long, I should get a bite to eat first. I still hadn't eaten anything all day. I went to the MSHI cafe and had a pizza and some water. After eating I went back to see if the single rider line for Spider Man had opened up. It had, and it was only about a 10 minute wait! I don't know what the CM earlier was talking about. Spider Man is a really cool ride. I sat in the front seat - as I suspected, it's the best place for this ride. The effects work much better. One particular seen that really stood out for me (besides the awesome finale) was one where this bad guy with several metal tentacle arms busts through a brick wall. It's very convincing. After finishing the ride I did it one more time, again with a 10 minute wait.

I decided to go back to The Hulk. A had about an hour left before I had to leave, so I figured I could get on one way or another. The CM at the ride entrance told me that the single rider wait was "always no more than 20 minutes". Wrong. It was about 45 minutes. Oh, by the way, there was a lady and her daughter in line in front of me who apparently had someone else in their party on the regular line. Their friends got on before they did. So, in other words, the 20 minute single rider line was about 45 minutes, while the 75 minute regular line was actually about 40 minutes. Lesson: don't believe either the CMs or the posted wait times. Also, if your in the single rider line for Hulk, just remember that, if the line goes to the bottom of the stairs, the wait will be at least 35 minutes. And the regular queue area is much more pleasant than the single rider queue.

Still, I had a very successful morning at IOA. I was able to go on every ride I wanted to, especially two I didn't get on when we were there last March (Dr. Doom and Dueling Dragons Fire), and I also got to go on Ripsaw Falls. All in all, a very productive morning. I left IOA and headed out for my trip out of Orlando and to Southern California. I'm going to SoCal for a couple of family parties over the week-end, and a trip to DL on Monday with 2 of my brothers and their wives.

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