Thanks for joining us. We'll have the laptop and digital camera with us, and we intend to try to update this web page every night (or morning) and share some of our vacation with you.
It'll just be the three of us (Laura, Lee, and Tigger) at Walt Disney World this time. Even though we were just here in December, we're looking forward to several new things - Test Track at Epcot, the Asia area of Animal Kingdom, Cirque du Soleil, and the new drop sequence of the Tower of Terror.
We're taking advantage of our DVC membership, and will be staying 5 nights in a studio at Boardwalk Villas, though our first night will be at Port Orleans - it will be our first time staying there.
Thursday, April 22, Fly to Orlando, Cirque du Soleil
Gary picked us up at 5:45 and whisked us to the airport - both flights were quite smooth. The landing in Orlando was amazing - neither of us felt the plane actually touch down!
We had our bags and our rental car and were out of the airport and on the road to Walt Disney World less than 30 minutes after landing. One new thing: they have consolidated the on-site rental car areas - there used to be several different counters for each company, and you just went to the one closest to your baggage claim area, but now they've put them all in one area (and made each counter bigger to accomodate more agents). We didn't have to wait in line there at all, though.
We arrived at Port Orleans and checked in - again, no wait. After dropping our bags in our room we headed off to Disney-MGM Studios, because I *really* wanted to try out the new version of the Tower of Terror. They re-programmed the drop sequence a couple months ago. And they say they added some new effects, but we didn't notice any. The ride was a lot of fun - it was interesting to have that sense of anticipation again and NOT know what was coming.
From the Studios we drove to Disney's West Side, because we had tickets for Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba, at 8:30. We had some time to wander around the West Side a little beforehand. It looks very different without the outdoor ice rink there - the last two times we had been there were both at Christmas time when the skating rink was open.
Cirque du Soleil was a marvelous show - some of the things they do you just
have no idea that the human body is even capable of doing. We had good seats
- close to the center and about 2/3 of the way up. I don't really think that
there's a bad seat in the house, though.
The sets and staging were really impressive - sections of the stage moved up and down to provide platforms as needed, and other things dropped from the ceiling. The whole thing was pretty indescribable - you really need to see it. Most of the acts were just amazing, but some of the "filler" stuff was, well *French*. That arty stuff that some of us just don't get. :-) We both really enjoyed the show, though. Lee had seen Cirque du Soleil Mystere in Las Vegas and liked it - he said this version of it was not quite as artsy and bizarre.
After the show we went to Bongo's, a Cuban restaurant, for dinner. We had a really good waitress, Liliana, who recommended a couple of the specialties. My pollo asado was *excellent* - very moist and flavorful. Lee had the churrasco (grilled steak), which he enjoyed, but liked my chicken better. The meal came with plantains either crisp or soft...we both preferred the crisp ones.
When we got back to our hotel room it was *freezing*, even though we'd
turned the air conditioning down before we left. It didn't keep us from
sleeping though...we ended up going to bed at about the same time we
would have in CA.
Friday, April 23 - Boardwalk, Epcot, dinner at Artist Point
And so we also got up about the same time we would have in CA - which made for a rather late start here. We had breakfast at the Port Orleans food court - we both had something that is probably a heart-attack special - deep fried cinnamon french toast sticks with bacon (Lee ate my bacon, though. :-) ) They were really good.
We said goodbye to Port Orleans and drove over to Boardwalk Villas and checked in. Our room wasn't ready yet, but that was no surprise. From there we walked to Epcot (we love the convenience of staying at the Boardwalk!) and went to see if Test Track was open. Test Track is a new ride at Epcot, which opened late last year. (It opened about 2 years after it was originally supposed to, but that's a whole other story. :-) The premise is that you are on the GM test track with a new vehicle, exposing it to the same kinds of testing that GM does on its cars. Since this ride is new the lines are VERY long. But from reading the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup, we knew that you could get in the singles line, and cut your wait from 90 minutes down to 10-20. We asked, and after a short wait we got in the singles lines and proceeded straight into the pre-show "briefing" area. From the time we got in the Test Track line until we boarded our vehicle was less than 10 minutes! Woo hoo!
The ride was fun - especially the "speed test", which goes outside the building and gets you going about 60 miles per hour. But I certainly would NOT wait more than half an hour for this particular ride - it's not THAT good.
After Test Track we wandered through Innoventions. It's been a while
since we spent much time in there. We saw several of the
demonstrations, and tried twice to tour the Honeywell House of the
Future, but the tours were always full. We did get to sample some
fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies from GE's convection oven, though.
Disney is doing something called "Magic Music Days" right now, where
high school bands come from around the country to perform, and we
watched one of them for a while. Epcot's annual Flower and Garden
Festival is going on right now, too, and we walked through some of
those exhibits. There are flower displays all over the park, though I
think my favorite things are the topiaries. Back in World Showcase they
have topiaries in each country that are appropriate to the country -
such as Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, and Piglet in England, Quasimodo
and Esmeralda in France, etc. Bambi and Thumper were in Canada...that
may be a bit of a stretch. :-)
We watched them release some butterflies in the Butterfly Garden in England, and had lunch at the Yakitori House in Japan (one of our favorites). Lee wanted to see Rondo Masquerade, an instrumental group in Italy, so we went down there to listen to them, and had something cool to drink afterwards, since it was a VERY warm afternoon.
It was time to head back to Boardwalk to see if our room was ready. It was,
and they gave us the number and we went to check it out. We walked out of the
elevator and walked...and walked...and walked...We're about as far away from
the elevator as you can get. And we still needed to get back out to the car
to get our bags! By the time we got back with those we were both hot and sweaty
Our room looks directly at the (rather ugly) Swan Hotel - and one of the 60' swans on top appears to be looking directly in our room. Lee is getting rather paranoid about it. :-)
But I digress...We had intended to go to Animal Kingdom after checking in, but decided to relax instead. I went down to try out the pool to cool off, and Lee stayed in the room and napped and read.
The pool was nice but rather crowded. It has a fun water slide that I went on several times, though. And it felt really good to cool off.
After cleaning up and showering we drove over to the Wilderness Lodge to have dinner at Artist Point. It was a wonderful meal. We had the Northwest Sampler appetizer, their house specialty maple glazed cedar plank salmon, and a bottle of wine. For dessert I ordered the berry cobbler and Lee had the flourless chocolate cake (though of course we shared). The berry cobbler was different than when we had had it a couple of years ago, but still very good. The cake was also very good - it had a lot more texture than we expected in a flourless cake, and was not souffle-like at all.
We drove back to the Boardwalk and took a walk ALL the way around the Boardwalk to try to work off some of that dinner. :-) It's about 3/4 of a mile. There were a lot of people out there - quite a contrast to this afternoon, when it was absolutely dead.
Lee's wondering how he's going to sleep tonight with that huge swan looking into our room. But we closed the blinds. :-)
Go to Part 2
Go to Part 3
Go to Part 4
Go to Part 5
Go to Tigger's Hat Holiday
Text and photographs copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath and Lee Zimmerman. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.Laura Gilbreath, firstname.lastname@example.org
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