Day 3 - 12/16/96Go Back to Trip Report - Part II
Today we set the alarm for 6:15 am so we could make early entry at the Magic Kingdom. As an alternate to the internal bus, we rode our bicycles down to the FW marina and parked them in the bike racks that are in the Pioneer Hall area. For those interested, it is about .75 miles from Pioneer Hall to the Meadow Trading Post and another .75 miles to the Reception Outpost (front gate). FW has paved walks for walking or riding and it is very pleasant to do either. Again, we timed catching the boat just right, it had just pulled up to the dock to begin boarding. Fifteen minutes later, we unloaded at the Magic Kingdom front gate at 8:00 am. We made a beeline directly to Fantasyland and Susan and the kids rode Dumbo with a 5 minute wait. We proceeded to Peter Pan and rode twice with no wait. Next we rode Cinderella's Golden Carousel and Snow White's Adventures with no wait. We moved on and rode Mr. Toad with a 5 minute wait and then rode the Mad Tea Party with no wait. We moved on to Tomorrowland Speedway for a hot lap around the track with no wait. All this was done in an hour.
We then headed over to Mickey's Toontown Fair, which was now open, to check out the Barnstomer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm. Brian had wanted to do this yesterday, but the lines were too long then. Today, there were maybe 20 people in the whole area. Katie agreed to go, though somewhat hesitantly. We ended up riding the Barnstormer 3 times and the kids would have ridden it 20. It really is a nice little coaster, but I wouldn't wait too long for it because the ride lasts less than a minute. We then moved into Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain. Both kids were wary of this ride but I kept telling them it was just a long Barnstormer. We went right in the queue and loaded up with a 5 minute wait. Susan said she liked SM at Disneyland better and I guess I'd have to agree. The ride at WDW seemed a lot rougher to me but it may just be my imagination. The kids didn't really like it. Also, the SM cars at Disneyland are side by side, which would have been better with the kids. We then split up. Susan took the kids to the Lunching Pad for a snack while I went for my first ever visit to Alien Encounter. I thought the preshow was good and the rest was very good too, similar effects to those that you experience during Honey I Shrunk the Audience. We then met back up to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Take Flight, and Timekeeper.
We left the MK and caught the boat back to FW. We later drove to the MGM Studios for a 12:30 pm lunch at Mama Melrose's. I had the lasagna, the kids had a kid's meal which included a pizza, drink and a cupcake, and Susan had some dish that she really enjoyed but can't remember. Total for the meal was $47. We then went to the Hunchback of Notre Dame show. They begin seating 25 minutes or so before the show so don't wait until the last minute. While you're waiting they have a juggler that does a fine job entertaining the audience. The show was absolutely wonderful! The two standouts in my opinion were the actors playing Quasimodo and Clopin. The actor playing Quasimodo swung with reckless abandon and sang wonderfully. This show was the highlight of the trip for Susan and I. We ended up returning to catch two more shows later in the week. We did notice in the later shows that they rotated different actors/actresses for all of the major parts with the exception of Clopin. We saw no loss of quality in the show, except the new Quasimodo didn't swing as well on the ropes.
We then moved onto MuppetVision 3D, which is one of our all-time favorites. The preshow is very funny, even if you have seen it a dozen times! We then rode Star Tours with no wait, twice! Katie was a little wary on this one, but later in the week, she got to where she wouldn't even hold on to the armrests. Next, we walked on the Great Movie Ride and got on the cowboy side. We rode this at least four times during the week and NEVER got on the gangster side. We then made our way over to the Animation Courtyard for some autographs. Chip and Dale, Mickey, Tigger, Fairy Godmother, Sheriff of Nottingham, Jasmine, Goofy, Genie, Jafar, Governor Radcliffe are just some of the characters we saw here during the week. We then took an ice cream break on the patio of the Soundstage restaurant. Those HoND ice cream bars are great! We then caught the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Same good show as always. Brian and Katie kept asking if they were really hitting each other, and if they were using real fire.
We then crossed the park and caught the Backlot Tour. It was the first time we had been back since they shifted things around. After a 10 minute wait we went into the special effects water tank area which was fairly entertaining, then another short wait in a prop storage area and then onto the familiar tram. We played musical chairs after the CM mentioned folks sitting on the left side of the tram get wet--I had to sit on the left, as always. We wound things up at MGM and decided to head back to the campsite so Susan could do some laundry and I could go to the Crossroads for tacos at Taco Bell. After dinner, we decided to head to Epcot to try to see Holiday Illuminations again. We jumped on Spaceship Earth with no wait then headed towards World Showcase. On the way, Brian happened upon the talking drinking fountain next to the main fountain. I had completely forgotten about this novelty until he came running up saying "Dad, that water fountain talked to me!" We proceeded on to World Showcase scouting all the way for a good Illuminations spot. The kids wanted to ride the Maelstrom, so we decided to head there and ride while keeping an eye on the crowd staking out viewing spots. We walked on to Maelstrom and Katie again used her thumbs in the ears, fingers over the eyes trick as we were making the climb up the conveyor and as we met up with the trolls. The kids loved the ride and insisted we do it again so we did. We did stay for the Norway movie the first time and the CM there said there was a hidden Mickey in it. I didn't see it. Anyone else see it? We stopped in the Norway bakery for a couple of cinnamon rolls and sodas then made our way to the rail to stake out our spot. Holiday Illuminations was good but by no means great. We then headed back to FW.
Day 4 - December 17, 1996
We slept in this morning because Tuesday is Early Entry at Epcot and crowds had been so small there. For a change of pace, we rode our bikes to Pioneer Hall then over to the Wilderness Lodge via the Exercise Trail that connects the two resorts. The trail is listed at 2.3 miles, but that is round trip. The trail is paved and unlighted or we might have used it later in the week to ride over for our dinner reservation at Whispering Canyon. We parked our bikes near the WL pool and, as chance would have it, we arrived just in time to see the geyser erupt. This is well worth seeing for those who haven't done so. We then toured the lobby area to check out the Christmas decorations. They had a fabulous Christmas tree and the biggest gingerbread village I've ever seen, complete with a train. There were details posted on how many hundreds of pounds of candy, icing, etc. that went into it and it was impressive. We then hit Roaring Forks for a snack and played in the arcade for a while before heading back to the camper for sandwiches.
After lunch we headed over to Epcot, intending to tour the World Showcase. As we were walking through FutureWorld, we caught the EpBOTS in Innoventions Plaza. This was a first for us, and we all thought it was an entertaining little show. I had read in other trip reports that an enjoyable way for kids to tour the World Showcase was to purchase a passport and let the kids get stamps at each country. We gave this a try and I think it was a resounding success. We purchased the passports in the Mexico pavillion (I think you can get them at any pavillion) but being engineers, we decided to start at Mexico and make our way clockwise around the WS in an orderly fashion. We did Rio del Tiempo with no wait but once was enough. The kids then got their passports stamped and the CM wrote something nice in each in their native language then translated what she had written. We proceeded to Norway where we rode Maelstrom with no wait for a third time. We continued to China where the kids picked up their stamp and then moved on to Germany. Here we stopped to listen to Saint Nicholas tell how Germany celebrates Christmas and about Germany's holiday traditions. Afterwards, we got autographs and a picture, then moved on to Italy. Here, we listened to La Befana, a good witch in Italian folklore, describe Italy's Christmas traditions. She was very entertaining and the kids really enjoyed listening to her story. We also stopped at the Kids Zone, a hands on area for kids, where Brian and Katie each made a necklace from Mickeyroni and Minnieroni -- what a treasure! We continued clockwise to the American pavillion and we walked right in to the American Adventure show. Afterwards, we stopped at the Kids Zone so the kids could make Christmas ornaments from colored pipe cleaners and get their passports stamped. We made our last stop at Japan, where we also listened to One World Taiko, the Japanese drummers, who put on an interesting show. We then caught the boat across the lagoon and left Epcot for the MK to catch Spectromagic and the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks.
We drove over to the Contemporary, parked there and walked over to the MK. We went through the 25th Anniversary Welcome Center, picked up our litho, then hot footed it over to Mickey's Twas the Night Before Christmas show in the Galaxy Palace Theater. We noticed as we walked down Main Street at 5:15pm, folks were already staking out spots for the 6:30 pm parade. What a waste of time! The Galaxy theater was maybe three-quarters full so we had no trouble finding a seat. The show itself was entertaining but short. We still had an hour before Spectromagic so we went over to Adventureland to ride an all time favorite - Pirates of the Caribbean. Brian, still recalling his earlier scare on Splash Mountain, kept asking if there was a drop coming, but he made it alright. We exited, and unfortunately, I left our litho in the dang boat. I didn't realize it until later, but I just blew it off assuming we would just stop by the Welcome Center later in the week and get another. Well we never did - no litho. We decided to go ahead and find a place to sit for Spectromagic. We started at Pecos Bills with the intent of walking back towards Main Street as far as we could and still have front row seats. We ended up outside of the Christmas shop across from Sleepy Hollow. The wait was about 30 minutes. Susan went shopping while I got to sit on the pavement holding our places. The kids really liked the parade. The last time they had seen it, they were half asleep and didn't really remember it. This time a number of the characters patted them on the head, gave them five, and/or had a wonderful smile to share. After the parade, I picked up some popcorn and a soda and we parked ourselves on some benches along the walkway behind Sleepy Hollow. We had a great view (our first time) of Tinkerbell decending from the castle. As we were waiting, several castmembers walking by told us we wouldn't be able to see the fireworks from where we were. We suspected that, but it's nice that they tell people before they start so they don't get disappointed. After Tink did her thing, we went up the walkway to Fantasyland to watch the fireworks.
We caught the resort monorail to the Contemporary then drove back to FW. We ordered pizza from Trail's End Buffet for dinner. They have a 16 in. cheese for $11.95 with additional toppings for $1.00. The pizza was LOADED with cheese and we all enjoyed it. We rode our bikes down to the Settlement Trading Post where we got some more of those great HoND ice cream bars and also picked up some souvenirs. We then headed out to the beach and watched the Electrical Water Pageant. I must say I was underwhelmed. Susan agrees. The kids were just happy to get ice cream again and didn't really care. Plus they got to walk around in the sand and get it all in their shoes. What fun! We then headed back to the camper for some much needed rest and relaxation.
Tomorrow, the big chill hits Florida, we tour MGM and have an eventful dinner at Whispering Canyon at the WL. Stay tuned, if you can.
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