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Friday, June 8, 2012

Disney World Middle School Trip - May 2010 - Day 2

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Day 2 was to be all day at Epcot. Two things dominated this day - first, there was a bunch of stuff on the SH in Epcot an as that was our only day there, plus the girls were determined to win, we would have our work cut out for us. One thing we had found out after the first day was that our only real competition for the SH was a team that included the son of Nick, the guying I was rooming with (most of the chaperon's were doubled-up). Nick himself was not the chaperon for the team, but his son was on the team. Unlike us, apparently they were able to get picked to get onstage during "Festival of the Lion King".

We had breakfast at the All Stars food court and headed over to Epcot. A quick note about the All Stars. I know a lot of folks aren't crazy about the All Stars, the rooms are small and all (which is true), but I have stayed at the All Stars several times and enjoyed it. The decor is fun, there's a high energy vibe about them that I enjoy and they all have nice pools. Now we are DVC members and own at The Boardwalk and obviously I'd much rather stay there, but for the price I think the All Stars are great.

We left early so we were able to get to Epcot for rope drop. Our plan was to head straight to "The Land" and get a FP for Soarin' so we tried to position ourselves appropriately. We watched the rope drop ceremony and then walked with the Cast Member (CM) to the entrance to "The Land". They let everyone in a bit early so they held us at the entrance to "The Land" for a bit longer, but characters came out to entertain the crowd. Once we were let in we immediately headed for the FP distribution and we got FPs for 9:48. We then rode Soarin' using the standby line. Something that I pretty much always do when I ride Soarin' is to ask for row 1. It may take a bit longer but it's well worth it. So we decided to do that for our first ride.

One of the items on the SH was JAMitors. Most of the SH items were in the World Showcase (WS) so I was keeping my ears peeled for the JAMitors but I could not hear them. We got FPs for Test Track (TT) for 10:35 and then went on Mission Space. I think I've ridden Mission Space about 6 or 7 times and I enjoy it more each time - it's a very unique ride. And if you are wondering, yes we rode the "full" (Orange) version. After Mission Space we went to Innoventions. One of the girls had heard about a game (sorry - I don't recall the name) where you stand in front of a green screen and get photographed, and your images are used in a video game. It was silly beyond words but the girls had fun doing it.

After that it was our FP time for TT so we headed over, but when we got there we saw that we were early because the sign said 10:15. We walked away when I thought "wait a minute - no way it's 1015!" I checked my watch and sure enough it was 11:00. We headed back and, sure enough were were able to get in to ride. We then decided to use our FPs for Soarin', but once we got there the girls said they were hungry so we stopped at Season's (another of my favorite WDW counter service restaurants) for an early lunch. After lunch, at about 12:10, we rode Soarin' for the second time. When we left Soarin' it was extremely hot so we headed to Club Cool - and of course I had to make the girls try the Beverly. They were, of course, duly horrified. When we left Club Cool we finally saw them - the JAMitors! We caught them near the end of their act and yet the girls were still able to Jam with the JAMitors and even earned their honorary JAMMitor stickers. (Of course we heard later that one of the kids in the competing team actually drummed with the JAMitors... arggghh...)

It was tune to head over to the World Showcase (WS). There were a lot of SH items in WS and the girls were determined to do all of them. I looked at the performance schedule and figured out a plan of attack that I thought would allow the girls to get to most if not all of the tasks on the list. The items we were able to check off, in order, were:

  • The traditional drummers in Japan (sorry, I don't recall the name)
  • We missed the Voices of Liberty but they were able to get a picture with them
  • Oktoberfest in Germany where they danced
  • The fife and drum corps where they became enlistees - even though at first they were told they were too old
  • The Voices of Liberty performed again - this time we saw them
  • Off Kilter in Canada - where they danced
  • The Mariachi band in Mexico
  • We looked for "The British Invasion" in England but apparently they no longer perform there
  • And the highlight - belly dancing with Mo' Rockin' in Morocco
Here are pictures:

Japanese drummers
Voices of Liberty

Fife & Drum enlistees
Listening to Voices of Liberty

Dancing with Off Kilter

Belly Dancing with Mo' Rockin'
Having successfully accomplished everything on the SH list that we could, we decided to go to Norway and ride one of the best attractions in WS - Maelstrom which had a 20 minute wait. After that it was time for the kids to have an early dinner and meet up with all the other kids for a studio session. As part of the package for performing at WDW they got a couple of hours in a professional quality studio for a recording session. We went to the America Pavilion for an early supper (I didn't eat) after which all the kids met up at a backstage entrance near Italy where they would be taken to the recording studio. I met up with a friend named Di who told me that she was meeting her daughter's boyfriend at La Hacienda de San Angel (HdSA) later for dinner. She said that they had an extra space in their reservation if I wanted to join them. I thought that sounded good so we arranged to meet later.

Now that we were rid of those pesky kids all us chaperons had some time to ourselves so a bunch of us headed to - where else? - the Rose & Crown Pub in the England pavilion. A bunch of folks were having a drink called a Pim. I tried a sip, and quickly decided to stick to my old stand-by Guinness. I struck up a conversation with another one of the Dads named Dave who I knew because our daughters used to be friends (they're still acquaintances, but not that close anymore). Anyway, Dave was also a DVC member and we talked about different DVC resorts. Interestingly, he had never used his points to stay at his home resort (Saratoga Springs) and we have never used our points at WDW to stay anywhere EXCEPT our home resort (Boardwalk). (We have exchanged points outside of Disney and have stayed in Hilton Head and Vero Beach, and on one trip we were moved to Saratoga Springs because our room at the Boardwalk was flooded). When I said this he said "Well, if MY home resort was the Boardwalk I'd stay there too." I have to say I agree...

Dave, his wife Holly, my room-mate Nick and I then left the Rose and Crown and walked around the WS for a while enjoying the sights and drinking beer. We all had dinner reservations so we separated to go to our various dinner venues. We were near the boat launch by Germany and I was headed for Mexico, so I boarded the boat and headed off.

I met Di and her family at HdSA and we waited for our Advanced dining reservation (ADR) to come up. And we waited. And waited. And waited. By the time we were seated we had waited well over 40 minutes. I have to say at this point that I have been to HdSA exactly twice - and both times I had the same experience. First, it took forever to get seated. Then, it took forever to get waited on. Then it took forever to get our food. The menu is interesting but i have to say it feels like they are trying too hard to be unique.It's not bad mind you, but I had a hard time finding anything that appealed to me. I actually ended up ordering from the appetizer menu - which I also did the one other time I was there. In fact, if I recall, I even ordered the same thing (a taco sampler). That said, the decor is absolutely stunning.This place is really beautiful. They just really have an issue with their service.

In fact, the service was so bad that Di and I had to leave before we got the bill. I left some cash and Di gave her credit card to her daughter and off we went. We headed back to Italy to the agreed upon meeting place to retrieve our kids after their recording session. Of course they were late and we ended up waiting for them anyway so we really didn't need to rush.

After getting out kids we all watched Illuminations. It was time to head back to the room after that, and this is a time I really dread - heading back to your resort via bus transportation after the park closes. Especially the All Stars. In this case, however, it wasn't bad and we were back in our rooms in no time. After such a long day the kids were wiped out so they went straight to bed. Again, some of us adults headed over to the pool bar for a drink. The end of another full Disney day.

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