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Friday, June 8, 2012

Adventures with Kirk - 2001 - Day 2

Day 2 - Sunday, December 9 2001

Kirk Intro

2001 Part 1
2001 Part 2
2001 Part 3

2002 Part 1
2002 Part 2
2002 Part 3
2002 Part 4


2005 Catch-up

We woke up bright and early and ready for our big MK day. This was our only full day at the World and we were determined to make the most of it. We toyed with the idea of going to the Boardwalk Bakery again for breakfast, but decided to head to MK instead. The park was scheduled to open at 9:00, but we figured they always open Main Street (MS) at least 30 minutes before hand.

In our youth, Kirk and I would normally show up at DL as close to opening as we could convince whoever was giving us a ride, and then stay until closing. We decided to do the same today at MK, just to follow tradition. Of course, being 26 years older we don't have quite the same amount of energy, but then the hours for MK this day were 9:00 to 7:00, versus 8:00 to midnight in the old DL days. So, we figured we were up for the challenge.
I originally thought it would be cool to come to MK via either boat or monorail from the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC), but after making some inquiries about the transportation options I discovered that the only way we could do this without risking arriving after opening was if we drove to MK. Experience has taught me to avoid driving to MK at all costs. Besides, our plan was to go to Epcot after MK closed and walk to The Boardwalk from there - driving made absolutely no sense. So, there we were at a few minutes before 8:00 waiting at the Boardwalk bus stop.

When we arrived at MK it was obvious that the place was not going to be terribly crowded. At a little less than an hour until opening there could not have been more that a few hundred people there. While we were milling around I heard a guest complaining to a CM about the fact that the gates would not be opening until exactly 9:00. I mentioned this to Kirk, and we decided to hop the resort monorail and pick up a snack at one of the hotels. Since it was early and not very crowded, the express monorail was not running, and the monorail that was running was not doing so with great frequency. We got on the first train we could, but by the time we got on we realized that we would not have enough time to get off, get a quick breakfast and make it back in time for park opening. So, we just stayed on. One good thing though, we did get to ride the monorail to MK after all! When we got back off the train at MK I made sure to point out our brick to Kirk.

As promised, the park opened exactly at 9:00. Since we still had not had any breakfast and were pretty hungry, and since the park was not threatening to get crowded so we weren't really worried about lines, we stopped at the Main Street Bakery for breakfast as we originally planned. We both had quiche, I had OJ and coffee while Kirk had chocolate milk. The total was about $12.00. On this day there was no question about the first attraction we would go on - Haunted Mansion (HM). As we were heading over we were talking about the differences between the WDW and DL versions of HM and Pirates of the Caribbean (PoTC). Kirk remembered them both as being pretty much identical, but then he hadn't been to DL in over 25 years so his memory of the WDW versions was naturally much clearer. I talked a bit to the differences, mentioning my opinion that the DL PoTC is superior, while I like the WDW HM better. One thing in particular about the HM differences: The busts that watch you as you go by work much better when you are in a "doom buggy" (as in WDW), as opposed to just walking by them (as in DL). In particular, the fat guy with muttonchops (who doesn't even exist in the DL version) is especially convincing.

After HM we stopped at a cart selling HM merchandise. There were a few items - a HM poster in particular - that seemed to catch Kirk's eye. I made a mental note. Keeping with tradition, our next attraction was PoTC. After the ride we stopped in the gift shop and looked around a bit, and Kirk told me that he saw some of the old "Pieces of Eight" in with a bunch of other trinkets. These were coins that you could buy from a machine that allowed you to inscribe them with your own message. We decided it was time for a little thrill, so we headed over to Big Thunder Mountain RR (BTMRR).

Up to this point there had not been any wait at any ride. Still, we thought it prudent to get a FP for Splash Mountain (SplM). When we got our FP we saw that the line was only 10 minutes. Now, every knows that if you see SplM with a 10 minute wait, well you just have to go on. It was already pretty warm, so on we went. The 10-minute wait, as we suspected, turned out to be a walk-on.

After getting splashed we decided to go on a much bigger boat - the Liberty Belle. We walked over to the boarding area to see when the next boat would leave. Unfortunately we only had 3 minutes and, well, I needed to use the men's room. I asked the CM at the boarding dock if he thought we had enough time. "Well", he said, "it depends on how fast you can be and what you need to do." Very funny. It didn't look like we would have enough time anyway, so we decided to try back later. We walked over to Adventureland (AL) and I used the restroom in the hallway that connects AL to Frontierland (FrL). When I came back out, Kirk pointed out the new Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride. My God but this thing is very possibly the ugliest and most inappropriate for it's location thing Disney has ever built. Worse even that that "Leave a Legacy" eyesore. It's stuck right in the middle of Adventureland, with it's mostly muted colors, and is all blue and purple and gold. If you approach from the direction so that you have the Arabian section of AL in the background it's not quite as bad, but it's still atrocious. It looks like a nice enough ride for kids, but whoever designed it should be fired immediately. This thing needs a major facelift.

After standing slack-jawed for a few minutes in front of that ugly thing, we decided to take a Jungle Cruise - again with no line. We then headed over to Tomorrowland (TL) and picked up FP for Space Mountain (SM). We toyed with going on the Autopia (I know, I know, the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway - but it will always be the "Autopia" to us), but the line was a bit long. Instead we headed over to Fantasyland (FnL) where we took a ride on Snow White's Scary Adventure. We headed back to TL - this time going the long way around to the MS entrance. Since we had time to kill we went on the PeopleMover (OK, OK, Tomorrowland Transit Authority). The PeopleMover at WDW is cooler than the DL version (now defunct - even as RocketRods, I understand) because it is much more closely integrated with the other TL rides. The part that goes through SM is particularly cool.

Our SM FP time was up so we did that. I told Kirk about how a soundtrack had been added to the DL version, which is pretty cool. After blasting through space were pretty hungry, and I suggested going to Tom Sawyer Island (TSI) and having lunch at Polly's. On the way to FL we picked up FP at the Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh (WtP). I had never been on the WDW version of TSI, but it was a regular place for a mid-day break for us at DL in our youth. While we were on the raft on the way over I heard the CM tell some kids to look out for Minnie and Mickey. Sure enough, we arrived on the island and there they were. We really hadn't made meeting the characters a priority for this trip, but when you've got the Big Cheese himself and his main squeeze right there with no line, well you just have to go for it! I told Minnie she was my favorite, and she blew me a kiss. I guess she couldn't resist.

We went to Polly's, which I thought was something of a sit-down place, but is actually just a sandwich stand. There was nothing there that appealed to either of us, so we decided to skip it. Instead we explored TSI. It feels bigger than the DL version, with more emphasis on caves and paths. It was actually pretty cool. When we got back to the mainland, the first thing on our agenda was food. We wanted to go to El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante, but it was closed. Three others were nearby: Pecos Bill Cafe, Columbia Harbor House and the Diamond Horseshoe. The Diamond Horseshoe was a bit crowded and loud, and the bill of faire at Pecos Bill didn't appeal, so we went to the Columbia Harbor House. I had a chicken and fish platter while Kirk had a tuna salad sandwich. It was actually quite tasty.

Feeling revived, we felt we were up for an Adventure with the tubby little cubby, so we headed off toward FnL to ride WtP. Kirk had mentioned that his wife absolutely refuses to ride anything with any sort of thrills - she felt that the waterfall in PotC was a bit much - so I warned him that, if he comes to MK with her, they had better avoid WtP. That Tigger bounce might be too much!
After communing with Edward T. Bear, we headed back to TL - picking up FP for Peter Pan's Flight (PP) along the way. The line for Autopia was still a bit long, but we couldn't get FP because we had just got one for PP, so we decided to bite the bullet. It would be our longest line of the day, but it was only about 20 minutes. I asked the CM if we could get in cars across from each other so we could race, and she obliged. It really wasn't much of a race, though, as my car was considerably faster and I had to keep slowing down to let Kirk catch up. Or perhaps it was my superior driving skills.

It was now about 3:30 and quite warm. We headed back to FnL, catching a glimpse of the afternoon parade along the way, and got berry slurpees at Scuttles Landing. They were quite refreshing. We headed over to SplM and rode again using our FP, with no wait. We thought we would just be able to catch the next Liberty Belle cruise, but the boarding platform was further than we thought and we missed it. Instead we used our FP for PP, then headed back to the Liberty Belle only to be informed that it was closed for the day. Rats. It was getting close to closing time and we wanted to do repeats of our perennial favorites, so first we hit HM. We stopped at the gift cart again, and I bought the HM poster Kirk was looking at as a late Birthday/early Christmas present. We then did PotC again, and topped off the evening with a trip to SM. We decided that, if we got out of SM before closing, we would get in line for the Rocket Jets (er... Astro Orbiter), but by the time we got out the park was closed. 

In the old days, Kirk and I rated a day at DL purely by the number of rides we had gone on. On this day we didn't rush between rides like we did when we were kids at all. Instead, we moved at a very leisurely pace, talking a lot the whole time, taking in the sites, discussing the architecture, and taking our time working our way through the queue areas. Still, thanks to FP and (more so) the small crowds, we were able to take in a boatload of attractions and we would have considered the day a big success when we were kids.

We slowly walked out of MK. We were in no hurry to leave, knowing that this would be our only visit on this trip. As we headed to the monorail I pointed out how there was a huge line to take the TTC/Epcot express train, but almost no line for the resort train. I think this was something I discovered on an early WDW trip. The resort train also goes to the TTC, so why wait in that huge line? I guess that the fewer people who know this the better - for those of us who do know it, at least. The only problem with taking the resort train is you have to go down and back up at the TTC to catch the Epcot train, but this is a small matter. Even on a light night like this I would say we saved at least 20 minutes.

As we were pulling in to Epcot I made a point of looking for the new Space Pavilion building. It wasn't lit up, of course, so I couldn't see it very well, but I've seen the artist's rendering and I think it's going to be quite impressive. I don't know about the ride, but I've heard rumors that it will use a ride system similar to Soarin' over California at Disney's California Adventure, and that ride is way cool IMHO.

Once inside we decided to check in Cranium Commandos was open - but no luck. Instead we rode Test Track again. I also stopped at Plaza Traders to purchase something I get most every trip - a Christmas Ornament. I got a "100 years of Magic" glass ornament to go with our "25th Anniversary" and "Animal Kingdom Opening year" ornaments. We then headed back to WS - along with every other WDW guest at the time. This was the only time on the whole trip we faced any real crowds - but it made sense and I'm sure a lot of people did exactly what we did. Still, I've seen it much more crowded at WS at night. We had Priority Seating (PS) reservations at the Rose & Crown (RnC), so we checked in. I inquired about sitting outside, but it seems they changed their seating policy and will no longer let you wait for a seat outside. We took the beeper thingey - they now have these PDA like things that ask trivia questions and such, which I suppose is great if you have a long wait with kids. We discussed the possibility of eating elsewhere, but figured that we may as well stick with a sure thing. After about 5 minutes our thingey went off, and of course we were seated inside. We both ordered the meat pie platter, which is the same dish I ordered the last time I went to RnC. Kirk had a beer and I had a Guinness. The food isn't great at RnC, but it's still one of my favorite Epcot restaurants, even sitting inside. The Guinness helps.

After dinner we went outside and found a decent spot for watching Illuminations. Not a great spot, mind you, but a decent one. And conveniently located near the France pavilion and easy access to the International Gateway.

After the show we headed back to The Boardwalk. Kirk wanted to go for another swim - it was a bit cold for me, so I spent most of the time in the Jacuzzi. We then headed over to Seashore Sweets for another sundae - couldn't resist that. While at Seashore Sweets I bought some fudge to take home to Andie and Kirk bought some candy for his wife Angela. A long tradition for Andie and me was to buy fudge at the Main Street Candy shop, but they no longer make it fresh at either WDW or DL. The MS fudge was, IMO, the best I've ever had. I was hoping that they used the same recipe at Seashore Sweets. I took a little taste and, to my delight, it tasted exactly like the MS fudge. Now, any time we go to WDW we'll have to stop by Seashore Sweets for fudge. We then topped off the evening, once again, with a drink on the veranda. This time I grabbed a notepad and Kirk helped me make notes for this trip report.

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