Day 4, August 11 - MGM Studios, Epcot
We again awoke at a decent hour (skipping Early Entry again) with plans to tour MGM Studios and Epcot. On my way to the Comfort Station I noticed a note hanging on the antenna of the Explorer. It was from Mark Davies, a fellow radp'er who was staying in the next loop over. After getting ready, Susan and I stopped by the Davies' site to say hi and met Mark and his daughter. We arrived at MGM Studios at about 9:15 am and it didn't seem like the crowds were that bad. We first rode the Great Movie Ride with no wait then rode Star Tours with a 10 minute wait. We then did the Backlot Tour with a 10 minute wait, intending on taking a picture of the Hidden Mickey cast in the orange rock at the exit of Catastrophe Canyon, but missed it. We saw the skull but somehow we missed Mickey. We decided to do the Animation Tour next with a 15 minute *very hot* wait. Disney has some netting up in the queue area that provides minimal shading but they really need to consider installing a hard cover with ceiling fans to move some air. The queue for the tour is in a corner of the animation courtyard so air really doesn't circulate well back there. We were pleased to see that the Hercules stuff had been moved out and replaced with Mulan artwork. We were also one of the first groups to see a new clip of Mulan in the animation gallery shown on the overhead screens. From what I saw, this movie looks like it has the potential to be one of Disney's bests. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I encourage everyone to do the Animation Tour if for no other reason than to see the Mulan clip.
Susan and I had made arrangements to meet up with Sam Ault (Sam the Bartender) on radp and Kenny Cottrell at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (ToT) at 1 pm. It was now after 12 noon so we decided we needed to find a quick counter service place to eat. The lunch Lisa Harris had gotten at the Backlot Express the day before looked edible so off we went. We each had a grilled chicken sandwich with french fries and drink for $14.63. Not exactly a value but the food was edible and it was nice and cool inside. Rested, we headed out in search of Kenny and Sam at the entrance of ToT. Right on time, they walked up. We waited a few minutes to see if Mark Davies and his family might join us, but apparently Mark had gotten tied up fixing a leak in his trailer. The posted wait time was a daunting 45 minutes but we only waited 25.
**ToT Tip #1** In the ToT queue you will come to a point where the line splits in two and runs under a trellis. When you come to this point *go right*. The left queue is longer and slower.
The first time we rode we took the left queue and we ended up getting way behind the folks that were just in front of us so beware! Kenny even said this was the case so it *must* be true!
**ToT Tip #2** Once inside, the queue for the elevators themselves splits--you can go straight ahead or turn back to the right. Go straight ahead! This queue is shorter but for some strange reason people tend to choose the longer line. Be smart!
The ride was great. I got to sit in the seat belt seat again. We all shouted "We're all gonna die!" just before we dropped. Woo Hoo! We decided to go watch the Hunchback show and made it in plenty of time to catch Matt the juggler's act. Kenny, Susan and I had fun providing Matt with audience feedback during his show. I think we've got it memorized. It's great though--get there early if you can. We did notice a different Quasi, Clopin, Frollo and I agreed with Sam's observation that the show suffered a bit as a result. It was now nearly 3 pm and Susan and I decided to head back to the campground for a quick shower and break while Kenny and Sam went to Epcot to eat a late lunch. We met back up with Sam and Kenny in front of Spaceship Earth at 5 pm and headed off to ride Horizons. I was finally able to smell the orange smell in Horizons! Woo Hoo! I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world that couldn't smell it but I did. Another Disney moment. We then did Universe of Energy, which allowed Sam an opportunity for one of his famous "power naps". Refreshed, he and the rest of us decided to do Body Wars next, which only had a 5 minute wait. I still don't really like this ride, the up and back motion the simulator makes when you're in the blood stream is nauseating. I really wish Disney would consider a change to this ride.
When we came out we noticed the sky had turned an ugly dark gray. Susan and I had dinner reservations at LeCellier at 7 pm and we hoped to be able to ride Spaceship Earth before parting with Sam and Kenny but it wasn't meant to be. There was still a considerable line outside (which I couldn't believe) so we said our goodbyes and began walking to the World Showcase. We almost made it before the bottom dropped out of the big black cloud overhead--but not quite. We had to stop to don our yellow ponchos but made it to LeCellier without getting completely soaked. We were seated after about 5 minutes. This was our first time here so we really didn't know what to expect but had read others reports and also reviewed the new menu on Deb's WDW Info Guide. Our server, Troy was very attentive and answered a few questions we had about the menu items. We both chose the cheese soup to start. Susan had the filet mignon, while I chose the penne pasta with grilled shrimp. We both enjoyed the meal and would definitely return. I do think LeCellier could benefit from some remodeling and according to gardenia, if business continues as it has recently, that may very well happen. Total with tip was $51.00. We were both stuffed but managed to waddle over to the America Gardens Theater for a superb performance by the Disney-Grammy All-American College Orchestra. This show had wonderful Broadway tunes, dancing, singing and even a performance by one of our favorite live acts in the World Showcase--the Houzali Troop from Morocco. We finished off our WDW visit with one last ride on Spaceship Earth before reluctantly heading back to Fort Wilderness.
As some of you know, I've become an advocate for skipping the Early Entry park in lieu of touring the park that was the Early Entry park the day before. I'm not saying we would never use Early Entry or that our touring plan is better. What we have found is that it appears that we don't lose anything by skipping EE, but do gain the added one hour of sleep in the mornings. Friday morning at the MK wasn't very crowded and we were late getting there. Saturday morning at Epcot was the least crowded I've seen it since December! Sunday morning at the MK wasn't bad; however, Monday at MGM Studios was more crowded than I expected. Overall, we were very pleased.
Well, that's it! I hope you picked something up worth using on your next trip to WDW. If you have questions on anything in the report, please email us. We love discussing Disney and are more than willing to help others in any way we can. Thanks!
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