Hi all. The cast of characters for this trip are Jeff, a 37 year old NASA engineer that is epitome of Disney-a-holics, Susan, a 36 year old NASA engineer, who has become obsessed with the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show at MGM, and our two bright, if not completely sane, children Brian (9) and Katie (7).
Day 1, May 31 - Travel & MGM Studios
We live in Huntsville, Alabama, and as we always do, drove to WDW. We made the trip in a little over 11 hours and the drive was uneventful. We own a Coleman popup camper and as always, had made reservations at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
We got to Orlando around 12 noon, and drove straight to Fort Wilderness. Check-in at the FW Campground was quick. It only took us about 10 minutes to complete the check-in process and receive our resort IDs. We were assigned site 841 in the Jack Rabbit Run loop which is near the Meadow Trading Post. The 800 loop is one of the bigger loops in the campground so we were somewhat disappointed to find that there was only one comfort station serving the entire loop. We had requested to be near the comfort station but were not given a site nearly as close as we would have liked. Setting up our camper was routine and the task was completed within 45 minutes.
We've established a tradition of riding our bikes to the Trail's End Buffet for lunch on our arrival day. IMO, the Trail's End is one of the better food values in all of WDW. The buffet items included spaghetti with meatballs, fish, fried shrimp, pasta, pizza, pork chops, a good selection of vegetables and a soup and salad bar. To top off the meal, there was a variety of pudding, pies and cakes for dessert. Cost for the entire meal was $33 with tip. After lunch, we scoured Trail's End and Crockett's Tavern for Hidden Mickey's. We believe we found one in the Tavern in the gun display case at the end of the bar on the right side. Inside the case, next to the rifle, are several circular cloth patches. In one area, three patches are laid on one another in the shape of a tri-circle Mickey! We made it back to the camper just in time to avoid a huge thunderstorm! Lightning was striking all over and it rained very hard for about 2 hours before finally blowing over.
We left for MGM Studios at 5:30 pm and as always, found the crowds to be minimal. Also, we have always found parking spaces at or near the front row when we go in the evenings. We rode Star Tours with no wait then proceeded to the Hunchback of Notre Dame (HoND) stage show. We were a little late arriving so we didn't get our usual up-front seats but were still able to give Susan her HoND fix. I kid her about this, but in truth, I like the show as much as she does. The key to getting a good seat for this show is to arrive about 30-35 minutes before showtime. When they let you into the seating area, find a seat along the stage that extends into the audience. If the left side fills up, move quickly around to the right side. We then walked on Muppets 3D and the Great Movie Ride before exiting the park for bed and some much needed sleep!
Day 2, June 1 - Magic Kingdom, Epcot (RADP Meet)
We were up at 7 am and rode our bicycles down to the FW marina to catch the boat to the MK. There are plenty of bike racks in the marina area for those wondering. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom (MK) at 8:30 am just as they opened the turnstyles. Walking through the arches under the train station and emerging into the Town Square always gives me goosebumps and this time was no exception. We had decided earlier that we wanted to purchase those red Guest of Honor name tags for ourselves and we located a cart selling them just across from Tony's Town Square restaurant. They were $5 each, and they engrave your hometown under your name while you wait. With our buttons on, we leisurely strolled down Main St. soaking in all the Disney magic. We queued up at Cinderella's castle until the 9am rope drop. We rode the Dumbo with a 10 minute wait, then rode Peter Pan twice, Snow White, Mr. Toad's Not-So-Wild Ride, and the Teacups before moving over to Mickey's Toontown Fair (MTF). As I've mentioned before, those wanting to tour MTF with minimal waits should do so before 10:30 am. We were able to ride Goofy's Barnstormer 3 times with no wait and noticed there were few people touring either Mickey's or Minnie's Houses. We backtracked to Fantasyland to see the Legend of the Lion King; however, we were pulled aside by Brian who noticed that Pooh was holding court in the Character greeting area across from Mr. Toad. Pooh is Brian's all-time favorite so we were happy to oblige. We stopped and rode Cinderella's Carrousel and it was here that we incurred our first injury. Katie was hit on the nose by a camera dangling from a man's shoulder. Poor thing!
We proceeded to the Lion King show and got in after about 5 minutes. This is a great place to relax when it's hot outside even though you have to stand in the waiting area and preshow. For those of you that have small children I suggest that you make your way to the front of the preshow, otherwise it will be difficult for them to see. The show itself is very well done, though it is a bit loud at times. We exited the theater to find that it had rained. We hadn't gone 50 feet before it began to rain again. We quickly unloaded our rain gear from the backpack and moved to Liberty Square. We had read other's trip reports and had heard of a park in this area but in all the times we had been to WDW, we had never seen it. Sure enough, behind the Christmas Shop, there it was. It really is a nice area with plenty of seats and shade. I highly recommend it as a rest area for those looking to get off their feet for a while. The rain continued and it was nearly lunch time so we decided to head back to Fort Wilderness. As we walked down Main Street it began to thunder and lightning big time. As we walked out the gate it turned into a deluge. Yes, we're talking Living Seas deluge here folks! It rained and rained. Luckily, by the time the boat made it back to the Fort Wilderness marina it slacked up enough for us to ride our bikes in the rain back to the camper where we dried out, ate lunch, and took a nap. The rain continued for several hours and with each passing hour the likelihood of a RADP meet seemed less and less.
Finally, at about 4:30 the rain stopped. We had decided earlier to have dinner at Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club so we packed up our rain gear and headed out. We were waved through the security gate without any problems. Susan and I shared a cheeseburger and fries, while Katie had chicken noodle soup and Brian had a grilled cheese with fries. Our server, Mike, was both nice and very attentive. For dessert, we all shared a Milky Way cake. Wow! It was huge and just the right amount for the four of us. I have no idea how a person could eat one by themselves. Another note on Beaches and Cream, they had complimentary Disney Adventures magazines for the kids. Total for dinner was $23.50. It was still drizzling as we walked over to the International Gateway. We stopped by the UK pavillion in search of another park, the one with the maze and garden area. We found it and the kids had fun playing in the maze while we eyed the garden. Miraculously, it stopped raining and the skies began to clear as we walked over to the Mexican Cantina for the RADP meet. By the time we arrived the sun started peeking through! There was still hope! We arrived to find Barb, Sam and the mystery guest Eureka already staked out at a couple of choice tables by the rail. We grabbed about 500 napkins and began wiping down adjoining tables for ourselves and others that we hoped would follow. Others that joined us were the Koziol family, Karen, John and their daughter Alice, the infamous Kenny Cottrell (just kidding Kenny), Simon Duvall and Chad Wilson. We chatted and drank (those margaritas are *really* good!) for a quick couple of hours and then capped off the night with a wonderful performance of the revamped Illuminations 25. We had a wonderful time and it was a pleasure to meet more of my fellow RADP friends.
Go to Trip Report - Part II
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