Again, the cast of characters for this trip were Jeff (38), a NASA engineer, wife Susan (36), also an engineer with NASA, son Brian, (10) and daughter Katie (7).Return to Part III
Day 8, December 12th - Magic Kingdom, Disney's Westside
Anyone care to guess what the weather was like? Yep, more rain. Luckily though it was light. I took the boat from the Fort Wilderness marina over to the MK and met up with fellow RADPer Jody Delong. Jody is another fan of Fort Wilderness and she and I had exchanged email to set up our meeting. I've always found Jody's advice on radp to be some of the best...it should be as she is a Disney castmember. She and I had intended to eat breakfast at Sleepy Hollow but found that it wasn't open this morning. We backtracked to the Main Street Bakery where I had a huge gooey cinnamon roll...mmmmmm. While eating we were entertained by the Barbershop Quartet. Those guys were fabulous! I've been to the MK dozens of times but had never heard them. Not only are they great singers but they are very funny too. If you happen to see them, I strongly recommend that you stop and give them a listen.
Luckily, Jody is also a fan of the "kiddie" rides in Fantasyland...woo hoo! After breakfast, we headed off in that direction and rode Snow White, Peter Pan, and Small World, all with little or no wait. Next we visited the Haunted Mansion...neither Jody nor I hung around to be the 1,000th happy haunt. We then rode Splash Mountain. I think Jody thought I was a wimp when I pulled out my yellow Mickey poncho and put it on. Hey, I'm made of sugar...I could have melted! We finished off a fun morning with a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I could have sworn I heard Jody scream "We're All Gonna Die" but that could also have been the echo from me yelling. Jody and I said our farewells at the MK front gate. Jody was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing her again on a future WDW visit.
I took the boat back to Fort Wilderness and then drove over to Port Orleans (PO) to meet up with another RADPer, Judy Lewandowski (judylew). Judy and I had exchanged email to set up a meet after we realized that our WDW visits would overlap by one day. She, a friend of hers named Michael, and I ate lunch together at the PO food court. I had the chicken strips with beans and rice...it was pretty good. We chatted for awhile about various Disney things, like the new Lion King Broadway show that Michael had seen recently. Needless to say, Judy and I were envious. Judy is a funny and charming lady and I'm tickled that I got to meet her. Judy and Michael had to go get settled into their rooms so we said our goodbyes after lunch. I drove back to Fort Wilderness to take some exterior pictures of the Wilderness Homes and Wilderness Cabins for the Fort Wilderness FAQ.
I had arranged to meet up with the O'Donnell family again at Disney's West Side at 4 pm so that was my next destination. I arrived early so I could look around at the various shops and restaurants. Having recently gone to Universal Studios Hollywood and the nearby Citywalk, it was interesting to me how similar the two were. I looked around in the different shops and soon met up with Larisa and her family. We decided to have coffee at Bongo's, the new restaurant owned by entertainer Gloria Estefan. Bongo's looked nice...Susan and I will have to try out the cuisine sometime. Again we passed the time by talking about differences in Australian and American customs, tastes and sports. Brian apparently is a big cricket fan...no not the insect...the "game" one plays with the wooden paddle. Brian tried to convince me there really was something to it but after having watched it being played in a park in Vancouver, B.C., I wasn't buying it. We also talked about tea and coffee. The O'Donnell's thought Americans drank their coffee too strong and their tea too weak. Time flew by and we soon said our goodbyes. I hope to be able to again see Larisa and her family. Maybe when the Spencer clan is down in Australia, we'll come knocking on their door. :-)
After having heard for months on the newsgroup rec.arts.disney.parks that the Hunchback of Notre Dame show was going to go away at the end of January, I was determined to see the show one last time. I drove over to MGM Studios and walked in about 15 minutes before showtime. Brian was back as Clopin...that guy is fabulous! After the show I was pretty dejected knowing that I'd never see HoND again. As I shuffled out, I stopped and talked to one of the castmembers standing near the bleacher area working the HoND show. I wanted to hear for myself that the show was going to be cancelled and to express my displeasure. I was pleasantly surprised to hear instead that HoND had been extended for a year...woo hoo!!! For those of you that have read our trip reports you know that my wife Susan is a *huge* fan of HoND. After hearing the good news about Hunchback, I whipped out my cell phone and called her right on the spot. Needless to say, she was tickled to death. What a way to end a fun day at WDW.
Day 9, December 13th - Travel
Not much to say here. When I woke up it was pouring down rain...ughh! I *hate* putting up or taking down the camper in the rain. There were quite a few accidents on the highway...several jack-knifed tractor trailers, cars in the median, and one 5 car wreck that happened right in front of me. I whipped out my cell phone, called the Florida Highway Patrol and kept right on trucking. Once I got out of Florida and the rain, the trip drive was uneventful.
On Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: This trip involved a few new things for us, the most significant being Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. I'd read other people's opinions on the newsgroup radp in previous years and they varied somewhat so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. My first impresssion was that I wouldn't spend the extra money to do it again, not with the kids along anyway. My observations are:
It's held too late. If the hours were something like 6 to 11 or 7 to midnight even, it would be better. The snow effect on Main Street is overrated. Maybe it's more impressive to folks that don't regularly see snow. The MVMCP shows (Every Day's a Holiday, Mickey's T'was the Night Before Christmas) can be seen at the MK during regular operating hours. The MVMCP Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks aren't terribly spectacular. From others' comments, the hot chocolate and cookies aren't worth much.
If I were to choose to do MVMCP again, I would see the shows mentioned above during regular park hours and skip them during the MVMCP. I'd then focus on riding rides. The only break I'd take from the rides would be for the parade.
On the RADP meets: The meets on 12/6 and 12/7 were amazing! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think there would be that many people at the Fountainview Cafe on Saturday. I enjoyed the interaction and the ability to mingle and talk to people. The meet on Sunday was fun too; however, I think in the future, my recommendation would be that, for larger meets, sit-down restaurants be avoided. I really liked doing the pre-meet ToT drop on Sunday. I think it put folks in the proper frame of mind. I also really enjoyed being able to meet up with other RADPers in smaller groups or individually. That is one thing I will try to do more of in future visits.
Well that's it! At last! Woo hoo! If you have any questions or comments on anything in the report *please* email me. I enjoy hearing from RADPers and I love talking about Disney. :-)
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