Day 3, March 30th - MGM Studios, EpcotGo Back To Part I
We awoke at 7:15 with plans to tour MGM Studios in the morning and Epcot in the evening. As the kids were eating breakfast, I called Bill Nuzzo, a fellow RADPer, to see if we could meet up sometime during the day. We agreed to meet outside Chefs de France prior to our 7 pm priority seating time. I also tried to call Nanci Rosetti, another RADP and chat friend, only to find that there were "a number" of Rosetti's staying at All Star resort...sigh. What was Nanci's husband's name? Where was she from? Argghh!
We drove ourselves to MGM - we rarely use Disney transportation from Fort Wilderness to MGM or Epcot - and arrived just after 9 am. As we passed through the gate we saw Meg, Hercules and Phil, so we paused to get their autographs and pictures. By the way, Meg *made* me do that silly pose or she wouldn't let me in the picture. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! As we were walking away the Green Army men came out in their car. They really liked Herc's new sunglasses. Actually, they were Brian's sunglasses and Hercules had helped himself to them. They also liked Brian's "buzz" haircut...very Army-like. :-)
***Tip***MGM Studios gates open 30 minutes *before* the advertised opening time...if you're there early, you can do most of the rides without any waits.
The kids picked the Great Movie Ride (GMR) as our first attraction and we actually got on the western side for a change...woo hoo! Not that I don't like the gangster side, but it seemed as though we were in a gangster rut as of late. I took a photo of the Hidden Minnie silhouette in the loading area. Katie picked Star Tours next which, like the GMR, was a walk-on. As we neared the end of the ride (entering the landing bay), we lost power and the ride shut down...Cool! Quickly, a cast member came in and assured us everything was fine and that they were going to reset it and try again. Two rides for the price of one...alright! After a visit to Muppetvision 3D, we split up...the boys going through the Goosebumps Funhouse (B-O-R-I-N-G), the girls searching for a baby Pegasus beanie baby (no luck).
Voyage of the Little Mermaid was next for us. Is it my imagination or have they turned up the "mist" in VotLM? We really enjoy this show and make sure we see it at least once every trip we make.
***Tip***In our opinion, the best seats for VotLM are in the back of the theater. We think you get a better overall view of the entire stage and the puppeteer's bodies aren't as visible as when you sit closer.
We passed some time letting the kids visit with the characters on Mickey Ave. before heading over to the Backlot Theater for the first showing of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. We were happy to see Matt the Juggler had added a new trick to his repertoire, using a Garden Weasel, oranges and a grapefruit. Matt really does have *way* too much free time! ;-) The show was good but the cast was significantly different from what we've seen in the past and the changes weren't for the better. As a side note, Susan and I recently saw "Damn Yankees" here at the theatre and noticed in the playbill that one of the cast had played Clopin at WDW. I suppose being a part of a national touring company is a step up from WDW. We ducked into Pizza Planet for a quick lunch and then stopped in at the One Saturday Morning Sound Show.
***Tip***Save a few dollars if you eat at Pizza Planet (elsewhere too) by ordering and splitting large soft drinks.
We had never been in the Sound Show in any of its previous incarnations but my kids are One Saturday Morning fans, so that's all it took for them to pull us in. As it turned out, it was a cute little show. It was even better for us as Brian was selected to be one of the on-stage helpers. In summary, the host selected several kids from the audience for the sound effects, then selected some adults for the voice-overs and other more complicated effects. The audience got to participate too as barnyard animals...the men being "pigs"...I don't get it! A clip from the Saturday morning 101 Dalmatians cartoon was shown and the audience-produced effects were recorded and then replayed for laughs. After the show, we stopped to play with the sound-effect toys in the lobby and listened to the 3D sounds in the little sound booths.
We strolled down Sunset Blvd to the Theater of the Stars to see Four for a Dollar, the preshow for the Beauty and the Beast stage show. Unfortunately, we didn't see them as they weren't singing that day...dang! BatB is a pretty good show but we often skip it. We should have skipped it that day too. Not only did we miss Four for a Dollar, but Gaston's microphone didn't work (nor the backup hand-held mike) during his big number. One positive note...they actually had a Gaston that physically fit the part...it's about time! It was now about 3 pm so we decided to head back to Fort Wilderness for our afternoon break.
After a nice nap in the air-conditioned camper, we hopped in the Explorer and made the short drive over to Epcot for dinner at Chefs de France.
***Tip***When parking at Epcot (or MGM) in the evenings, drive up to the front of the lot and look for an empty space. It makes getting back out to your car easier if it's within walking distance where you can avoid waiting on the tram.
As is usual in the evenings there was no line for Spaceship Earth so we walked right on.
***Tip***Waiting in lines for Futureworld attractions isn't necessary. Most can be toured with no lines after 5 or 6 pm when most guests have left or moved into the World Showcase.
We hot-footed it around the World Showcase and met up with the Nuzzo family outside of Chefs de France. Bill and I had exchanged email prior to our trip and were planning on trading NY State Police patches for NASA patches. Bill brought his patches but I forgot mine...d'oh! I did have some Space Shuttle pins though and promised Bill that I would send the patches later. I hope you got them Bill! After chatting with the Nuzzo family and saying our goodbyes, we checked in at Chef's de France and were seated immediately in the newly enlarged conservatory section. We liked the more open feel of the restaurant since its renovation. Susan ordered the sauteed chicken breast with wild mushrooms, on a basil potato puree. I had the grilled tenderloin of beef with a red Bordeaux wine sauce served with the original potato gratin of Savoy. The kids both had orange roughy kid's meals. We happened to be sitting near the dessert/pastry bar and therefore had ample opportunity to convince ourselves that we *had* to have dessert. We finished off our meal with a chocolate mousse (me) and a peach melba (Susan). The dinners were both delicious and we look forward to going back to Chefs de France soon.
After dinner, we strolled around the World Showcase, pausing at the Norway pavilion to watch Illuminations before heading back to the campground.
Day 4, March 31st - Magic Kingdom, Campfire Program
Tuesday is normally a MK day for us, being the day after a Surprise Morning at the park, we usually find we can do a fair bit of touring while avoiding the big crowds. We decided to ride Splash and Space Mountains first thing, so we queued up at the Adventureland bridge for the dash to Splash. Actually, we didn't dash, we walked at a "brisk" pace. We were able to get there in one piece and ride with no wait...woo hoo! We could have ridden again with only a brief wait but once on Splash is usually enough for us. Instead, we boarded the Walt Disney World Railroad and rode around to the Mickey's Toontown Fair stop, exited there, and took the "secret" walkway to Space Mountain. We rode after only a 15 minute wait. Katie is still afraid of Space, so she was escorted by a Cast Member to the walkway where she could meet us at the off-load area.
***Tip***Use the WDW Railroad to save your feet! The trains run every 6 minutes and provide an excellent means of getting from one side of the park to the other. On top of that...it's fun! :-)
After the kids cooled off under the Coca-Cola Spaceship, we walked over to the Grand Prix Raceway for a thrilling - NOT - spin around the track (20 min wait). I made the mistake of letting Brian go by himself with *me* in the car ahead of him. It was a mistake because his car was faster than mine and that turkey rammed me the whole time! Where's that super soaker when you need it! We backtracked a bit and rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA), happy this time that the soundtrack was working again. We all really love this ride ...for different reasons. Susan and I can get some smooching in as we pass through the dark sections without any comments from the peanut gallery. Brian and Katie can antagonize each other without us seeing who's to blame. ;-)
We took the "secret" walkway back to Mickey's Toontown Fair to ride Goofy's Barnstormer (5 min wait). The kids are really proud of themselves because they can ride this ride with their hands up the entire time. This little coaster is a great confidence builder for kids that aren't quite sure they want to do BTMRR or Space. Susan and I found a bench under the covered play area while Katie and Brian played in Donald's Boat. I need to add this area to my "Places to Relax in the Parks" list! It was now close to 11 am, so I took a poll on where the kids and Susan wanted to eat...Pinocchio's Village Haus! No big surprise there. The kids had the peanut butter and jelly kid's meals. Susan and I split a Mickey Value meal, which consists of a double cheeseburger, fries and drink. We got an extra order of fries but we really didn't need them. The condiment bar in Pinocchio's is great! I cut the cheeseburger in half and loaded my half with sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, mayonnaise and ketchup...mmmmmmmm. I think Pinocchio's has the best cheeseburgers at WDW. We took up our usual position at the window overlooking IASW so the kids could wave at guests below.
***Tip***Save money by splitting meals, especially if you're not all that hungry. This isn't only true for fast food but works equally well at sit-down restaurants.
We waddled out of Pinocchio's towards Liberty Square. By this time, the crowds were starting to build so we decided to visit some of the more "high volume" attractions, starting with the Riverboat. It's interesting to me that people flock to the bow on the lower deck to sit out in the open sunshine when there's plenty of shade elsewhere on the boat...not me! I was disappointed to note the lack of ride-along characters. I thought that was a good idea...hmmm. We used the rope bridge to skirt the masses in Frontierland on our way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (15 min wait). Katie really enjoyed the ride and was able to relax knowing my riding "secrets". With that ride complete, we had ridden the big three mountains at the MK, all with no more than a 15 minute wait. Afterwards, we bought ice cream to celebrate our success...I love those Mickey bars! We finished up our day at the MK by doing Country Bears and Hall of Presidents. We caught the boat back to the Fort Wilderness, where the kids and I went swimming while Susan did laundry. Hey...it was her choice! :-)
After a nice dinner in the camper, we toted our folding chairs, cooler and chocolate chip cookies to the Campfire Program. The Campfire is open to all WDW resort guests. For details on the Campfire, how to get there and photos, visit the Fort Wilderness FAQ. During the sing-a-long, we were visited by Chip and Dale, who *love* to do the hokie-pokie. It's always cute to see parents and even grandparents up there doing the hokie-pokie with their kids/grandkids. That's what it's all about right? We watched Pocahontas on the big screen, then headed off to bed.
Go To Part III
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