Well then… LET’S FIX THAT!!
Day 4 - " Zippidy Do Dah! Zippidy Ay! My oh my what a wonderful day!"
So last night I had gone to bed at a fairly reasonable hour, for Disney, 12AM. This morning, I awake at… 4AM! What the….? I mean, I know I’m excited for Boma and all that, but this is nuts!
OK! So it’s 4AM at Disney World, though nothing is open, and my breakfast reservation isn’t for 5 hours yet… what does one do? Well, not much really. Still, since sleep wasn’t in the cards for some reason (and, no surprise, I wasn’t tired because I’m working off of Disney energy) I start the morning ritual and take this opportunity to partake in a nice long hot shower. Which my body was enormously grateful for.
Now, to give some perspective, for the past several months, I’ve run or walked no less than 7 miles a day preparing for this trip. If my daily step counter dropped below 12,000 steps, it was a real off day. When I got to Disney, I noticed those numbers were amateur hour and my body was starting to feel it. The tail end of last night, my legs had started to grow sore and though no blisters, it was hard to move this morning. So the hot shower was a welcome relief.
After all that was done, it was onto the balcony to drink in that glorious view again with a piping hot cup of coffee. As I sip the hot beverage in the early morning light, I notice the air has changed. If the first morning was warm, the second morning was cool, but this morning was a perfect spot between the two.
I smile. I’m in my happy place.
There’s not much that happens for these few hours. I just enjoy my coffee, with the hotel TV playing it’s instrumental Disney music in the background, and I watch traffic build as cast members report for work or depart for home, or guests arrive or leave. It might not be coffee in the shadow of the Castle, but it’s a real good substitute.
Closing in on the time to leave for my reservation at Boma, I gear up and head down to the Kingdom’s bus lot. Originally, I had a reservation for Boma at 7:40AM, but after the awesome advice from the folks here (special thanks to @Lens_number_1_Fan, @OBNurseNH, and & @PrincipalTinker on this one) I had pushed it back to closer to 9AM to make sure I could take a Disney bus over to Animal Kingdom Lodge without a hassle.
Getting down to the bus lot, the sun is starting to crest over the horizon and it’s just a perfect morning for weather. It’s hard to explain but there’s this energy that is there that wasn’t there the previous mornings. I got “Zippidy Do Da” playing in my head (HEY! I warned you at the beginning of this that this was gonna get hokey! Don’t blame me! You knew what this was!).
I start to head to the collection of buses when the traffic controller (not sure what else he would be called) notices me and asks where I’m heading.
“Boma? Uh, I guess Animal Kingdom Lodge?” I say, not entirely sure what the lingo is for describing a destination for anywhere that wasn’t a park. I figure he’s just going to direct me to the proper bus.
“Sounds good, let me get you a bus.” He said and flips a switch on his mic “I need a bus for a guest to Animal Kingdom Lodge?”
This completely catches me by surprise. I had anticipated needing to wait for others to board a bus before it was allowed to go or to catch it during a scheduled leave, so I had allowed a nice cushion of time to get to the bus and then to Boma. But he is telling me a bus is going to specifically take me, and just me, to Animal Kingdom Lodge. I’m not used to this level of customer service, which is why it’s surprising. …sniff…’scuze me, I got somethin’ in my eye…. talk amongst yourselves…
After thanking him, I climb aboard my bus and I’m chauffeured off to AKL. On the way, the bus driver makes small talk with me and we end up discussing everything from weather, to cars, to the new Avatar Land to be opening up in Animal Kingdom. Based on what he’s said, the park sounds like it’s going to be a lot better than I had expected.
After the bus ride, and because it was pretty much just a cab ride for me, I’m WAY early for my reservation so I take this time to check out AKL. Holy cow what an awesome hotel! When I speak about theming, THIS is what I’m talking about! Sure, it might not be “Disney” exactly, but it still works, and works well.
Heading to the back of the hotel’s lobby, I head outside and come to see the fire pit. I don’t know why it is so impressive, as my apartment complex has one and I couldn’t care less about it, but this one I just want to return later tonight and sit around it as someone tells a ghost story or two. I’m in the animal area and see a couple of birds that I can’t remember the name of and off in the distance, I see a couple feeding giraffes. This hotel is amazeballs. There’s just no better way to say it.
After my exploring, my stomach reminded me why I’m here and it’s Boma-Time! I head down and check in, but it’s still a few minute wait to be seated. As I waited, a group of women were setting up for a group selfie capturing the restaurant behind them, at the last moment, one of the hostesses photobombed the picture with a big smile and a peace sign. Having an older camera, the ladies didn’t realize the event had happened until after they looked at the picture after the fact. As they looked at the photo, they laughed in surprise at the unexpected face in the photo, and started quickly looking around to see where the mystery face came from. The hostess had slipped back a few feet like a ninja, awaiting their reaction and I suspect ready to duck out quickly in case they didn’t find it amusing.
Once they left, I was seated and it was off to the buffet! First round: cinnamon toast bread pudding with walnut sauce, chocolate chip pancakes, a mickey waffle and a Simba waffle, and finally scrambled eggs with goat cheese and chive.
I’ve never had eggs like this before, and I believe I need to make sure all my eggs are like this for the rest of my life. Absolutely delicious. In fact, all the food was. It would take three or four plates of food, with about a gallon of coffee and jamba juice, before I finally had to wave the white flag of defeat.
Practically rolling out of AKL, it was time to hit up EPCOT.
After a quick bus ride over, I’m in line and through bag check and thus beginning my “randomly selected for a screening” streak. From here on in, EVERY time I enter a park, I’m “randomly selected.” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind specifically, but my setup with my DSLR clipped to my belt makes it awkward as I have to completely take off the apparatus each time I’m “randomly selected.” If I ever have the great fortune to go back, I will have a better, more accommodating, setup so bag checks aren’t as annoying when carrying my good camera.
Anyway, through bag check and then through the mickey posts, turning them that ever satisfying green, I enter into EPCOT: Future World. Leading up to the trip, everyone was excited for me to go to EPCOT more than anywhere else, as this was to be more for adults than the rest of the parks, and for that I was excited to. Mainly because I love the idea of a harmonious future with all the nations of the world together. I know it’s in a bubble where reality isn’t totally there, but the fact that it COULD be a reality gives me hope, and in today’s world I’ll take hope anywhere I can get it.
Ok, enough of that, so once into the park I head straight for the big sphere to figure out where the entrance to the ride is. Big shocker, it’s right in front. I have a fastpass for Spaceship Earth, but I’ve got a few minutes before the window opens up so I take the time to explore around. As I head up the path on the right, I notice the “Art of Disney” store, with the “mickey” design I saw on the shirts from the “dance party” parade.
Still hoping to snag a shirt with the design on it, I head inside and plead my case to the cast members inside. Unfortunately, they don’t know of any shirt, and suspect it’s a shirt for just that show, but they spend more than enough time I would consider necessary to help me find something on the app or in another store. Seriously, the customer service is getting to me in such a good way. Sadly, we all came away with nothing but the suggestion to maybe try the the Mouse Gear store or the custom T-Shirt shop in Disney Springs.
Thanking them for their generous help, I bid them a good day and headed out and straight to the suggested Mouse Gear store. Unfortunately I struck out there as well. So it looks like Disney Springs was my last hope to hope, as I might not be able to buy an official one, but maybe I can create one that’s a good substitute.
Leaving Mouse Gear, my window has opened so I head back to Spaceship Earth. On the way, I pass by the fountain and notice that the water jets are not static like they were the first time I passed by, they’re now spurting and jumping and syncing up with the music. And it’s not just ANY music, it’s the theme from The Rocketeer, one of my favorite movies! So I stop and film the last few minutes of the show.
Once that was done, NOW it was time for Spaceship Earth, for realsies this time. I head back down the path and find the fastpass area and go in. When I was on this ride the first time in 1990, I remember it being one of my favorite rides and I was so ready to experience it through adult eyes.
Climbing onto my “time capsule”, was gleefully impressed that there was now a touch console asking for my information. I had the sense that there was going to be some serious changes from what I remember, and since this is a ride showing humans through the ages, I couldn’t wait to see what they had came up with.
I was sorta unimpressed. The ride is still great, but am I nuts or did they cut a lot of things out? I remember passing by a “family of the future” as they cook their dinner with computers and what not (no, I’m no thinking Carousel of Progress), but here it’s all now in that touch console with a cartoon depicting what I remember. Same message, just a bit customized, but not animatronics anymore. Which is cool and all, but I was hoping for maybe something a bit more… tangible than a cartoon? The ride also felt much shorter than I remember as a kid.
Either way, once that’s done, I head over to Soarin’ to see if I can jump onto the ride. But after I get closer, I see it’s a 120 minute wait. bwahahahah yeah fat chance I’m waiting 2 hours for ANY ride on this trip. I have a fastpass for it tomorrow, so I can just wait until then. So with that, it’s off to accomplish my main goal for today, which is to dive deep into the World Showcase and really get to know the pavilions. I had set aside the whole day for this endeavor and I did not want to waste a second more.
I walk onto the ring of World Showcase and I’m hearing ALL the languages. Hebrew, German, Spanish, English, French, Arabic, you name it, I’m pretty sure someone was speaking it here. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed to be expected that you speak your native tongue here than anywhere else in the parks. It makes me smile as I realize Walt’s vision worked. We’re all here, in harmony, enjoying the day. Again, sure, it might only work HERE, but you can’t blame Walt for the rest of the world screwing it up.
As I make my way around the ring, I first stop at Mexico and check that out. After inspecting the display cases of what they would wear in ancient times (capes for everyone!) I hopped aboard the Gran Fiesta Tour. I don’t remember much of this ride as a kid, but it’s a fun little ride. I really loved the fiber optic fireworks toward the end.
Once done, it was off to Norway where I would quickly check out what they had going on there. I found it really odd that a country, so known for its cold climate, so much so that they were selling ski gear in their gift shop, to be here in super-warm Florida. Still, seeing the area where they analyze Frozen’s inspirations from Norwegian history was really cool (ha, pun!). I also noticed that Norway had their own Free Range Stormtroopers in the guise of warriors walking around and interacting with the guests. Very entertaining as they try to pick fights with all the males and steal their wives or mothers.
From there it was off to China where I was unaware Shanghai Disneyland had a HUGE display going in there. Stupid of me, right? I spent probably the most time in here as I looked over everything, finding everything really fascinating. One of the things from Shanghai I absolutely want to see here in the States is the Tron roller coaster. So seeing an area devoted to the ride made me really happy. Once, I was done with oogling all the new Shanghai Disneyland stuff (I now really want to go!) I found myself in a theater lobby with Mulan doing a meet and greet. While she was doing that, doors on my left suddenly opened up and a girl gestured for the few of us who were in the pavilion to enter.
We did and I had my first taste of Circle Vision 360° in “Reflections of China.” I know it’s not a ride really, but when you’re completely engrossed in the movie and you start flying over things you really get the feeling of movement. I felt myself, more than once, banking and swaying with the camera. I REALLY enjoyed that.
After China, it was off to Germany, but I just snapped a few photos and passed by, as I could see there was just a restaurant. Did I miss something there? I looked on the Disney site and saw there was nothing like what I just experienced in China.
Next up Italy…which… mimicked Germany. Ok, WTF? The architecture was certainly amazing, and probably one of the best views of the lake, but beyond restaurants, it looked as if there was nothing here. I have a lunch scheduled here later today (Via Napoli) so I decided I would breeze past this and then take a closer look after lunch.
I also breezed past American Adventure for now as I know my American History, I didn’t really feel like catching up on things I already knew.
So then we land in Japan and they at least have bit of a museum, which was showcasing… “cute.” I’m not sure why this choice was made, but I will say it was probably the first time I’ve ever seen an iPhone in a museum showcase. It was, nonetheless, kinda interesting to check out and see how ancient Shinto shrines and modern anime are connected to the roots of “cute”.
After Japan, it was Morocco which, had a small information area on the decorative wear of the people which I found pretty cool. Tile. Tile everywhere! Unfortunately, aside from the small room on this, there didn’t see to be much aside from, again, restaraunts and shops. I’m starting to wonder why everyone was so jazzed for this if you don’t have a bottomless stomach?
Speaking of stomach, it’s time for lunch! I head back to Via Napoli and I’m ALL sorts of excited. I had read reviews on this place, watched a video on the Magical Express bus about how they do this, and I loves me some pizza. Let’s do this!
I walk in and it’s a short wait and I am seated next to a boisterous group who, unlike the group at Mama’s, are enjoying each others company with laughter and smiles. A nice change. My waitress arrives… no, not my waitress…my WATERess? Wha?
She explains that there’ll be 3 people serving me today. Her, who is strictly there for water, my Waitress and a waiter in training. I nod in understanding and thank her for the water and my wait-duo arrives soon after and fills me in on the choices I have awaiting me, but alas… Touring Plans made this effort pointless as I know exactly what I’m after. I wanted to try all the pizzas, but at $20 a pie, it was going to be hard to justify, so I settled on 2. The White Pizza and my go to: margherita. Upon ordering both, and seeing I was alone, my Waitress double checks with me to makes sure I know what I’m doing. I smile and assure her I do, and thank her for double checking. Hi, I’m Randall and I’ll be your stereotypical 'murican fatty, today.
The pizzas come out and they are thinner than I was expecting, but absolutely delicious. So much so that I completely polished off the White Pizza and started into the second before I remembered I wanted to take a picture! Dang it!
As I eat, I learn, thanks to the group next to me, that this is the Waitress’s last day. Ok, so when you eat alone, you do a LOT of eavesdropping. Can’t be helped, sue me. Besides, they were entertaining. Anyway, the group next to me is asking for continous recommendations of food from the Waitress and apparently everything she’s suggested has been a huge hit with them, so they had spent a lot of time talking to her. I’m a bit envious because what she is suggesting does sound delicious, but I’ve got pizza to work through!
Once all is done, I congratulated her on her last day and I made my way out. I took this time to inspect the Italian pavilion, but my initial assessment remained unchanged: there was nothing here but shops and a restaurant.
So it was off to France. Tomorrow I have a reservation for Chef De France, so I don’t spend much time here but do check out the shops a bit. I started to leave france when suddenly a street performer show began, I stopped to watch an amazing gymnast climb up several chairs stacked on top each other. Really cool.
After the show had ended, England was the next stop. Sigh, and again, nothing but shops and restaurants. Am I asking too much to want to “experience” these countries without having to eat or drink there?
Moving on, it’s Canada with another, very entertaining, Circle Vision show. Once again, I find myself banking and swaying with the camera and I really love it. Canada’s movie was probably the most entertaining thanks to the efforts of Martin Short.
And then I was done. Wha? This can’t be right. I know I move fast, but c’mon. I open my map on MDE and sure enough, I visited everything already. Apparently World Showcase’s experience diminishes when you don’t drink, and even more so if you don’t eat at every pavillion. I still have about two hours before my FEA fastpass so I decide to go back to the countries I glossed over and see if there wasn’t more to them. I do this at a bit of a slower pace now, making an effort to take photos.
After meandering and discovering I didn’t miss anything obvious from those countries, I arrived at Norway to wait out the remaining time for my window for FEA (only a few minutes).
Once the Frozen window opens up, I stroll in. I’m not a huge fan of Frozen. I thought the movie was one of Disney’s weaker stories, and Olaf flat out annoys the bejesus out of me. But I had seen this ride via youtube and was blown away by the animatronics. I NEEDED to see this in person. I ended up sitting solo in the first seat in the boat, and I’m sure a grown man alone on a Frozen ride gave off a rrrreal good image :).
The animatronics did not disappoint, and it was totally worth it. Of all the rides at Disney, I would have to say this one was my favorite for several reasons. 1) The technology employed (obviously). I mean, you feel like you’re in the cartoon! The animatronics are just astounding to look at and the face-projection idea is genius. In videos the faces stand out, but in person it blends right in and look like it belongs and it is glorious. 2) It’s an original story. Unlike most of the rides at Disney which rehash the movie, or are random scenes, this is a continuation of the Frozen story. As a kid, I remember wondering why they made the rides rehash movies because if I wanted to see the story of the movie, the actual film does a much better job than this ride ever could. So with it being a continuation, it won huge points for me because it was something all new and never seen before. It’s the same reason I love Star Tours. But unlike star tours, which is basically a movie, this was more tangible. 3) The effects. A perfect use of sound, light, video, and carbon dioxide.
After Frozen, I still had the problem where I had seen almost everything I could in World Showcase, and I still had to come back tomorrow as I had a Fastpass for Soarin’ and Lunch to do in France. I started back toward Future World, unsure what to do.
While in the midsts of indecision, I came upon Universe of Energy, and was intrigued. Something in my head was throwing flags and saying “Don’t do it!” but I ignored it. There was no wait and I needed some time to figure out what to do, so I went in. Taking a seat in the giant semicircle theater, I ran some options over in my head while I waited for the …whatever this was… to start.
I should’ve listened to my head! It wasn’t until the movie begins, and that I see a SUPER dated film starring Ellen and Bill Nye, that I remember why I didn’t want to check this out. It’s too dated. After the 5-10 minute film where Ellen and Bill explain something about energy, the cast members open the doors and warn that a 70 minute ride was next, but if you wanted to leave, now was the time. I chose to abort and I exited.
Coming out of the theater, I went over my dilemma: I have set aside two whole days to visit EPCOT, and if I was able to see World Showcase in only a few hours, I can’t see Future World taking more time as it is smaller. I could see EVERYTHING today, but then what would I do tomorrow? I have to come back because I have reservations. I also wanted to check out Illuminations tonight, but it’s only 5PM and Illuminations isn’t for another 4 hours.
After going back and forth with the Pros and Cons, I decided I have a park hopper option on my ticket, time to make use of it. I would leave EPCOT and just revisit tomorrow and see what I had missed, and I would just see Illuminations tomorrow. Tonight, we go to Hollywood Studios.
This, my friends, would end up being one of the best decisions I made the whole trip.
I leave EPCOT and get on the Bus for HS (I didn’t realize they were in walking distance), and while on the bus, I pull up fastpass to see what’s available. By luck, Fantasmic is available and I click that quickly. I didn’t think I was going to be able to see it as the the FPP for yesterday was gobbled up quick.
The bus drops me off and it’s through bag check, “randomly selected” security, turning that mickey-post green, and then off to the Great Movie Ride. I absolutely loved this ride as a kid (though the Alien scene did scare the snot out of me!), and I think it spurred my love of classic movies (well, with a little help from my dad). The queue to this ride is so cool, as you progress down a classic movie theater. Once at the ride, I’m seated next to a family with a son who couldn’t have been more than 8.
This ride is so corny, I totally love it. It completely reminds me, somehow, of why I love the classic movies. As we progress through, I notice the boy reacting the same as I did all those year ago. Excited to see Indiana Jones, scared from the Alien, relaxed at Wizard of Oz, and then delighted and amazed as our tour guide returns from the dead.
The ride ends and I’m off to Star Tours. Got a different ending this time, and it’s still such a fun ride. I could easily ride that all day. Once Star Tours is done I caught Galaxy Far Far Away in full this time. My original opinion hasn’t changed. It feels like filler or a prelude to something that never arrives.
After the show, I stop at the Starbucks and grab myself a frappuccino and people watch for a bit, then go around taking pictures. It’s almost time for Fantasmic so I make my way toward it and I get close to the Tower of Terror, but I never get on. I want to ride it, but I am really bad with heights and even though I’ve gotten better over the years, I don’t think I can do ToT yet. I’m a huge fan of the Twilight Zone and theming (which should be obvious at this point) and both of these boxes are checked for this ride, but I just can’t bring myself to step on. I’m such a pansy. I do, however, check out the gift shop as I wait for Fantasmic.
Once Fantasmic opens up, I file into the area and take a seat a little off the left of the stage. I had hoped that FPP people were treated like they were for the Festival of Fantasy parade in MK and given special seating, but that would not be the case. You just sit wherever you want and I think only dinner party people got special seating. Upon this realization, and the fact that the area wasn’t filled by the time the show started, that I felt I wasted this fastpass. Not that I really care, given that nearly everything was walk on, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Once the show starts though, I completely forget my annoyance as it is completely amazing. Wizard Mickey “splashing” the crowd, the effects, the whole thing was just awesome. And it was far more elaborate than what I would have thought.
Unfortunately, upon the last fifteen minutes, and the finale, the Star Wars fireworks had started up and the light was encroaching on the show. Where once shadow was able to hide an effect, now you could see actors in black suits running around. It also became a distraction to several people around me, as they literally got entranced by something shiny and left the show to go check it out. I do not understand why Disney set this up like this and I feel bad for the actors putting in the work down on the stage.
Once the show ends, there is massive gridlock getting out of arena. I wasn’t really understanding why until I realized that the park was full on closing, and so EVERYTHING shut down all at once. And because I had already seen the stores for the most part, I didn’t really see a point in stopping in again to check out the same things that I wasn’t going to buy from yesterday.
Still, the walk to the busses had their own highlights and I was anything but bored. Mostly because a group near me were quizzing each other on various Disney movies and songs, and I silently played along.
Once at the bus, I decided I didn’t want to go back to the hotel yet, so I figured now was a good a time as any to revisit Disney Springs. Unfortunately, I had just missed the bus and so it was going to be a 20-30 minute wait for another bus. After spending about 10 minutes in a line that was going nowhere, I bailed on it as I heard a rumor that one could walk to the Boardwalk from here.
The Boardwalk was sorta Disney Springs-esque, so I figured that would certainly do as I wanted to visit there anyway. Locating a cast member to confirm the walk was possible, she pointed me in the right direction and a walking I did go.