Day 7 - 12/20/96Go Back to Trip Report - Part V
I forgot to mention in the last part of the trip report one of the few problems we had at the campground. The heat on the men's side of our comfort station wasn't working too well which made for some REALLY cold showers! I called it in to maintenance each time and when we would return later in the day everything would be fine but first thing in the morning it was COLD! Susan said everything was fine on the ladies side which makes me wonder if the women weren't somehow diverting our heat over to their side. Another change in the comfort stations was the installation of infrared sensors on the faucets. This is LOUSY! First off, they didn't work that well and secondly, the only way to get hot water for shaving was to reach under the sink and turn off the cold water supply valve. Come on Disney, are you really saving that much on water usage?
We decided to make our first park today Epcot so we could tour the Living Seas pavillion which we had yet to see. As we were entering the gate, Susan noticed that our Annual Passes had printed on them "Good through October 7, 1997". Good catch Susan! We had purchased our AP vouchers from our local Disney store in October but hadn't activated the passes until 12/14/96. We headed over to Guest Services once inside the park and spoke with two very nice CMs there. Apparently, when we exchanged our vouchers at Guest Services on Saturday the CM had not changed the date on his computer screen and it defaulted to the purchase date. Everyone should check the date on their APs!!! They proceeded to set things right (or so we thought) and while I waited, Susan took the kids to Centorium to buy some stocking caps. We then headed over to the only pavillion that we had not seen - The Living Seas. The kids liked it but I must say I find it only so-so. Not that it's bad, it's just that I scuba dive in the ocean and have seen much of what is in the tank in its natural environment. There's not much of a comparison.
We then headed over to Journey Into Imagination for our Figment Fix then moved on to see Canada's Circlevision movie O Canada. It had been many years since we had seen this movie and honestly I had forgotten it so it was like seeing it for the first time. I like the Circlevision effect, I just wish you could sit on a swivel stool instead of standing up. We then spent much of the afternoon redoing the attractions in FutureWorld before heading over to MGM to catch the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights at 6:00pm. As we went through the gate at MGM, Katie's AP wouldn't work. The CM noticed that it was wanting to scan her fingers which wasn't right because they don't do that for kids. We got to looking at my pass and saw that it was a child's pass! GRRRR! We headed over to Guest Services to try to rectify the situation but were told that they couldn't do anything until an hour after our passes had been scanned due to some kind of security feature. We stopped and rode Star Tours on our way to the back of the park then strolled around the Residential section of the backlot. The light show was amazing. Three million lights were affixed to everything! Bicycles, barbeque grills, boats, cars, lawnmowers, everything was literally covered in lights. I wasn't expecting to care much for this but was very pleasantly surprised. One thing to be wary of though if you have kids is the crowd. It was wall to wall bodies. I would advise those with kids to stay to one side of the street or the other to keep from being separated. After a final ride on the Great Movie Ride we headed by to Guest Services to fix our passes once and for all. We just beat the crowd and were able to correct mine and Katie's passes as well as change Brian from Ms. to Mr. and Katie from Mrs. to Ms. Once silver lining in otherwise dark AP cloud was that our "good through" date was changed not to 12/14 but 12/20/97, giving us 6 more days! Yeaah! We then headed back to Fort Wilderness.
Day 8 - December 21
We skipped early entry today at the MK and instead went to the Soundstage Restaurant at MGM for their character breakfast. We arrived five minutes early for our 8:35 priority seating time and were seated immediately. Our server greeted us immediately and took our drink orders. She gave a quick overview of the buffet items and then assured the kids the characters would all come around to see them. The buffet selection not as extensive as what I recalled at the Mary Poppins CB at 1900 Park Fare but everything they did have was well prepared and tasty. This included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, blintzes, magic carpet waffles and lots of fruit. The coffee was good and plentiful as was the orange juice. The characters were Aladdin, Genie, Meeko, Belle, Clopin and Quasimodo. About half way through the meal Genie led the kids around the floor in a parade. Total for the meal was $53. We then took our last ride on Star Tours before heading over to the HoND stage show. We made sure we arrived early so we could get the prime seats next to the stage. Matt was again the juggler and I was happy to see another guest do no better than I at tossing the dreaded Diablo onto his juggling string. The show was again wonderful even though the man playing Quasimodo didn't swing as well as the first guy. The same guy played Clopin all three times we saw it and to me he IS Clopin. Susan liked the show so much she already wants to go back just to see it and we've only been back 3 weeks! We then did Superstar Television for the first time ever. On a scale of 10, I'd give it a 5. It was OK, but the quality of the show is dependent on how good the guests selected from audience do. We had some good ones and we had some real losers.
We then headed back to FW. While Susan did laundry and the kids played on the playground I rode my bike around the campground to check out the sites on various loops. I also copied down the bus routes which are now posted as part of the FW FAQ. We drove over to MK to catch Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade. As we walked down Main Street at 2:00 pm the curb was already nearly filled for the 3:00 parade. We headed over to Pirates for our last ride then picked out a spot on the wall on the other side of the fence from Pecos Bills. I walked back to El Pirata Y Perico for tacos and hot dogs for lunch which I carried back to our waiting spot. The park was the most crowded we had seen all week. We were extremely surprised when the parade started in Frontierland instead of on Main Street. I had read in RADP that that was the case for the televised parade but did not realize that was also the case on other days. The parade started with a single float, the Beauty and the Beast float, from the "Remember the Magic" parade then went right into the normal Christmas parade. We got lots of great pictures and had fun watching the parade later on TV and saying "We saw that".
After the parade, I had this great vision of being able to walk over to Splash mountain and Big Thunder for some non-queue riding. Boy was I wrong! It was wall to wall bodies. We did finally make it to BTMRR and waited for about 15 minutes to ride. Just as we were about to load up the power went out which completely shut down both BTMRR and Splash Mtn. This seemed to throw the park into chaos as two of the big rides emptied their queues into the rest of the park. The lines for everything else were huge. We decided to ride the Liberty Belle Riverboat which we had not done in three years. We noticed the shack that was supposed to be burning was not, another apparent casualty to the power outage. We then walked through Fantasyland to marvel at the crowds and stopped to watch the Sword in the Stone ceremony. All rides had 30 to 45 minute waits so we continued around to Tomorrowland to ride Carousel of Progress. They were only using one theater for some reason so we even had a 10 minute wait here. The crowds were so big and we were so disgusted we decided to leave after that.
We went offsite to the Olive Garden in the Crossroads area for dinner. For those of you that aren't familiar with Olive Garden it is a TGI Friday's type Italian chain restaurant that has great garlic breadsticks and good food for a reasonable price. There are numerous eating establishments in the Crossroads area including Chili's, Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut which provide a cheap alternate to Disney dining. After dinner we headed gack over to MGM to see the Sorcery in the Sky Fireworks. We voted this fireworks show the best at WDW. Viewing is excellent anywhere on Hollywood Blvd. so there's no reason to walk all the way to the GMR to see the show. As we were leaving MGM, it hit us that our vacation was over and we would not be returning to any park tomorrow which was a major bummer.
As we passed the bus stop near our campsite at FW we noticed the lights were out and soon discovered that the entire resort was without power. We use a small electric heater in our camper which now obviously didn't work. Additionally, the bathrooms are equipped with infrared sensors to flush the toilets which also did not work. A call to the Front Desk was useless as they had no idea how long the power would be out. Luckily the outage lasted only about an hour. Disney apparently has some serious problems with power which I hope they find and fix.
Best Show: Hunchback of Notre Dame Most Frequented Ride: Tie between Journey Into Imagination, Star Tours and Goofy's Barnstormer Biggest Disappointment: Holiday Illuminations Favorite Dining Experience: Chef's de France Best Fast Food: Tie between Columbia Harbor House and Sunshine Season Food Fair Biggest Surprise: Availability of Characters and Control of Queues Most Lousy Guest Award: The man who woke us up in the middle of the night yelling at his child/grandchild for wetting the bed Best Resort Christmas Decorations: Grand Floridian (WL close second) Best CM: Robert on the boat from FW to the MK Favorite Parade: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade Best Fireworks: Sorcery in the Sky at MGM Favorite Snack: HoND Ice Cream Bar
This was our first time to visit during the Christmas season and it may very well become an annual tradition. The Christmas shows were very entertaining, especially the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. The crowds, with the exception of Saturday the 21st, were almost non-existant. Also, we found the Annual Passes to be great in terms of flexibility. We could go where we wanted when we wanted without worrying about wasting days on a 4 or 5 day pass. Well, that's it. If you're still around, I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments.
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