Day 4, March 28th - MGM Studios, Magic KingdomReturn to Part 1
We began the day at MGM Studios, arriving just after rope drop at 9:10 am. We decided to make our way down Sunset Blvd to pick up Fastpasses for Rock'n Roller Coaster (RnRC) first thing and then backtracked to the Great Movie Ride (GMR). After a 5 minute wait, we ended up being the victims of the "bank robber" in the cowboy scene. After exiting GMR, we noted that our ride window had opened up on RnRC so we headed over to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid (VotLM) to get Fastpasses for it. We noticed that unlike most other attractions, the return ride window for VotLM is 10 minutes instead of 1 hour...hmmm that does make sense when you think about it. We used our Fastpasses to ride RnRC with about a 10 minute wait and enjoyed it every bit as much as in the past. Disney gets a big thumbs up from the Spencers on this attraction. :-)
Noticing the standby wait on Tower of Terror was short, Susan and I tried to coax the kids into a ride - no way, no how, uh-uh, forget about it, ain't happenin'! Oh well, we left them a FRS radio and let them mill around in the gift shop while we rode and had a great time. It was their loss. :-) It was now about time to return to VotLM so we made our way back up Sunset Blvd. As we reached the intersection at Hollywood Blvd., we heard the sound of ice cream calling out to us from one of the street carts. Brian and Katie chose the calorie-laden Nestle toll house cookie sandwiches while Susan and I had the "lighter" Mickey Premium bars. Even though it was still morning it had gotten pretty warm so the sprinkling effect of being "under the sea" in VotLM was refreshing.
Next, we made our way across the park to the Backstage Theater to see the 12:30 showing of Hunchback of Notre Dame, our favorite Disney stage show. We were a bit surprised to see a new juggler (Steven) in lieu of Matt. As it turned out, it was refreshing to hear a new spiel and see some new tricks. The HoND show itself was again excellent. The current Quasimodo (still there when I visited on July 17th) has an amazing voice and hearing him sing "Out There" is worth the price of admission alone.
I hope they keep this show for quite some time.
The ice cream, combined with the fact that we were still pretty filled up from all the junk food we ate last night at the Atlanta Braves game, made us decide to cancel our priority seating for lunch at Hollywood and Vine. Instead, we left the park and returned to Fort Wilderness where we napped in the air-conditioned camper.
After naps, we rode the boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom, arriving at about 4 pm. The park was still pretty busy so we opted to visit the less popular attractions to avoid waits in line - we *really* hate those. :-) We started out with Walt Disney's Carrousel of Progress - a family favorite and always a nice place to relax and cool off. We followed that with a ride on It's a Small World, which had the most people in the queue I'd ever seen. I suspect that we timed our arrival with the end of a Legend of the Lion King show - folks tend to exit the Lion King and pour right into the Small World queue. Even so, our wait was only 10 minutes. Next up was going to be the Hall of Presidents but for some reason it was temporarily closed. Instead, we shopped around in one of our favorite Disney shops - The Christmas Shoppe. After that we crossed the park to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and noticed how really crowded everything was. Not wanting to wait for anything and getting a little hungry, we finally decided to eat an early dinner at El Pirata Y el Perico (the taco place in Adventureland). I'm sad to say that what once was one of our favorite counter service restaurants at WDW is rapidly declining. We found only one register open for taking orders so it took 30 minutes to order! To top it off, there was no diet Coke, so we had to get one at Pecos Bill's. This was the second trip in a row where we'd had a poor experience at the Taco Place. We finished off the evening with a night ride on Big Thunder Mountain - woo hoo! - and then returned to Fort Wilderness for showers. Susan and I did the laundry while the kids went to the Campfire.
Day 5, March 29th - Epcot
We began day five at Epcot, with our first order of business being to renew our Annual Passes (APs). Considering we were not planning another visit to WDW until December and therefore would not be spending a lot of time at the water parks, we opted not to get Premium APs this time and instead got the Regular APs. It took quite some time to do this at Guest Services as the Cast Member handling the transaction charged us the wrong price and had to start over from scratch. :-(
Eventually we did get our passes and had our biometrics set in the turnstiles. This was Katie's first time as an "adult" AP holder and therefore her first time to use the scanner. After some coaching, she was able to get her fingers in the "peace" sign configuration and she was all set. Following our plan of getting Fastpasses first thing, we headed directly to Test Track and it's a good thing we did - our Fastpass, received at 9:40 am, wasn't good until 2:20 pm!
***TIP*** If you plan on using Fastpass for Test Track get it early! Otherwise, you may find yourself having
to stay at the park all day or having to return later in the evening to use it. An alternative for some is to use the Single's Line, which is a quick way to ride Test Track; however, all riders must be prepared to be split up from the rest of their party and ride solo.
We crossed Future World and headed to the Imagination pavilion to ride Journey Into Your Imagination (JIYI), the recently revamped attraction that is now Dreamfinder-less and almost Figment-less. We find this attraction to lack the whimsy and fun of its predecessor and give it a unanimous thumbs down! The hands-on playground, Image Works, was also revamped but it faired much better than did Figment and Dreamfinder. Brian was itching to play some Sega Dreamcast games so we headed for Innoventions West. We gave the kids a FRS radio and let them play inside while we watched the now departed Future Corps. We gathered the kids back up and watched Kristos, a trio of "alien" acrobats that perform in the Fountain Plaza. Immediately afterwards, we watched the Jammitors, a percussion trio dressed in custodial uniforms that utilizes such things as garbage cans, and dust pans as musical instruments.
We arrived at the World Showcase just as it opened at 11 am and made our way immediately to the Norway pavilion to ride Maelstrom with no wait. We backtracked to the Mexico pavilion to eat lunch (no priority seating) and were able to get a table along the rail where we could watch the boats pass by on the "River of Time". Susan and I split a wonderful plate of nachos...mmm mmm, Katie and Brian had the chicken strips. Total for lunch was $37.
There's a merchandise cart near the China pavilion that the kids *always* have to stop at. Katie loves the colorful umbrellas, while Brian loves the cute puppets. Brian was also able to get some excellent lessons on how to handle the Diablo - those who've seen Matt the juggler during the Hunchback of Notre Dame preshow at MGM Studios are familiar with the Diablo - from one of the nice Chinese Cast Members. :-)
We quickly made our way around the World Showcase to the France pavilion to see the World Showcase Players do "Cyranose de Bergerac". The Players shows at the UK pavilion have always been family favorites so we were really looking forward to this new show. When we'd met up with Laura Gilbreath earlier in the week she'd mentioned that she'd been picked to play the lovely Roxanne in the show. When asked if there were pictures of the event Laura replied - "yeah, right!" Well, as it turned out, Susan too was chosen to play Roxanne - unfortunately for her, I'm the photographer and I *do* have pictures. I must say she put on a smashing performance. Isn't that crown just lovely? ;-)
Next, we made our way to the Canada pavilion to watch another family favorite - Off Kilter. Is it just me or are their shows getting shorter? It seems like 3 songs is about all I hear them play anymore when it used to be 4 or 5. Hmmm...oh well. Continuing to enjoy the live entertainment, we then made our way to the Italy pavilion to watch a new act that I'd heard a lot of good things about - Nova Era. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I'd just listened to "rocked up" Celtic music but Nova Era didn't really do much for me. The kids found the water squirters in the surrounding planters to be more entertaining than the musicians so it wasn't just me. Oh well, we'll give them another try again sometime. We finished up the afternoon by using our Test Track Fastpasses and were able to enter the preshow after about 15 minutes and ride after about 20.
After a nap and showers back at Fort Wilderness, we drove to the Contemporary Resort for our 5:30 pm priority seating at California Grill. While waiting to be seated, we walked out onto the 15th floor balcony and I took a few photos of the Magic Kingdom and the beautiful sunset. We were seated by the window, just as we had requested at check-in, and proceeded to have a wonderful dinner. After sharing a cheese flatbread appetizer, we enjoyed our delectable entrees. Susan's favorite is the tamarind barbecue beef filet, mine is the pork tenderloin. I don't even remember what the kids had. Susan and I topped our dinner off with a black bottom triple chocolate souffle with peanut butter ice cream - it just doesn't get any better than that. :-)
We finished off the evening at the Campfire Program watching Winnie the Pooh.
Tomorrow - Animal Kingdom, Horseback Riding, Watersprites, Magic Kingdom
Go To Part 3
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