It was *still* raining hard in the morning. Lee had arranged earlier in the week to take the Wild by Design" tour at Animal Kingdom, (we both wanted to take the Yuletide Fantasy tour but it was already booked up - next time!!!) and he grabbed a quick breakfast at the bagel/coffee/doughnut place inside the Beach Club (got a bagel for me, too!), and then went out in the rain.
As it turned out, his tour was cancelled because of the rain, but they offered to put him on the Backstage Safari ("The tour where you are guaranteed to see no animals", as the guy at WDW-TOUR put it) instead, and he did that. They provided him with a poncho, though it wasn't actually a Mickey poncho. :-) He enjoyed the tour very much, even in the rain, and they did in fact see a few animals in the backstage area at Animal Kingdom.
I'd planned to attend some of the RADP Meet events at Animal Kingdom that morning, but it was *still* raining...and there was a tornado advisory! I didn't think we were in Kansas anymore!!! So I stayed in and relaxed and read and talked to a couple friends on the phone. I'd planned to meet one of them later that day at Epcot, but she had to cancel since it really wasn't safe for her to drive an hour and a half in the rain.
By 11:30 it had mostly stopped raining and I walked over to Epcot to see American Vybe. Between the weather it being the first show of the day they had a very small audience, and I was the only person who was sitting on the floor, so they asked my name and told everyone else to "come join Laura here on the floor under the dome!" :-) I saw two of their sets, and in between wandered around and saw a few of the holiday storytellers - Pere Noel in France, the Dharuma Seller in Japan, and La Befana in Italy. I also saw the World Showcase Players perform their version of "A Christmas Carol". Which bears very little resemblance to the Dickens' story of the same name, but it's a lot of fun.
***Did you ever notice that Pete (the bass player) is the only member of American Vybe who is in *every* performance? Doesn't the poor guy ever get a day off?
I planned to attend the "Whose Line is it Anyway" RADP meet at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so I took the bus from the front of Epcot to the Lodge. Several of the other meet attendees had been in Animal Kingdom (despite the rain) that morning, and they'd actually seen Lee since I had, though they asked me where he was. :-)
The meet was fun - there are some very talented and funny people in the RADP group. Donna played the "Drew Carey" role, and there were 6-8 other people that were doing the improvising. I think Kevin's performance of Wonder Woman with PMS was my favorite. :-)
I took the first bus that came to the Lodge, which happened to be a Studios bus, and I walked from there back to the Beach Club along the path next to the canal. It's just about a mile from the bus stops to the entrance to the Beach Club, since it took me about 12.5 minutes to walk it. (Yes, as a matter of fact I *do* walk fast. :-) ) A boat left the Studios dock a couple minutes after I started on the path and it passed me, but it had to drop passengers at the Swan/Dolphin first, so I still arrived at the Beach Club several minutes earlier than I would have via the boat. AND I got a good walk!
Lee was back when I returned, and had his clothes pretty much dried off by then. (Have I mentioned how nice it was to have a dryer in our unit?) We decided to drive over to Downtown Disney and have a relatively early (6:00) dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Express - we really like their butternut squash soup! We get a couple bowls of that and split a salad and that's dinner. (The recipe for the soup is available on Wolfgang Puck's web site and I made it for Thanksgiving and Christmas...it's really good! Not hard, mostly just time-consuming.)
We got dessert to go from the Gourmet Pantry - turtle cake for me and german chocolate cake for Lee - and wandered around the Marketplace. We are continually amazed at how *busy* it is there in the evenings...there are people *everywhere*! I guess once you get to 7:00 Epcot is the only park that's open and people have to do *something* so they go to Downtown Disney. We did some shopping at World of Disney and found a fleece fuzzy for me (which got wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree after we got home), and checked out the new "Once Upon a Toy" store. Wow...that's a huge toy store! I enjoyed the displays of the monorail track with all the various hotel and park attractions - though it was strange to see the park attractions from Disney's California Adventure (the Sun Wheel, California Screamin', etc.) side by side with the Contemporary resort. :-)
After we drove back to the Beach Club and dropped off our purchases we went into Epcot and watched Illuminations again, and then walked around the lagoon to the plaza where we snuggled on a bench and watched the fountain dance to Christmas music. It was turning into a rather chilly night! We watched it for about 30 minutes or so before walking back to the Beach Club. I think Epcot is quite beautiful at night.
***Did you ever notice how people will stop just long enough to take a
picture of something like the fountain, and then walk on without taking
another moment or two to enjoy it? What's the point in that?
Saturday, December 14 - Epcot, RADP Meet
Well, at least it wasn't raining today...but it was overcast and windy and COLD!!!
Our day began by meeting Deb Wills at the Boardwalk Bakery for breakfast. Since it WAS chilly, Deb suggested going into the Bellevue Room at the Boardwalk to eat, and that was a nice cozy place for us to visit for a while and catch up on things. I tried a "cinnamon yummy" for the first time...and it really WAS yummy!!! I think the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls at Tusker House are a *little* better, but this was pretty good! Deb got a phone call that the International Gateway where the big meet was planned had evidently been pre-empted by Disney for a private function (the nerve!), so we walked over to see if there would still be room for us. There was, fortunately.
We relaxed back in our room for a while - hey, we were on vacation! - but went over to Epcot to have lunch at the Tangierine Cafe at Morocco. Still one of our favorites!
By then it was time for the big RADP meet back over at the International Gateway. It was great seeing lots of old friends - like Charlotte and John, pictured here, and meeting some new people, too! (Hi WDWJan!) There didn't seem to be as many people at the meet this year - not sure if that was because of the weather (it was still overcast and quite chilly), or just not as many people made it to Florida this year. I always intend to circulate more and try to talk to some people that I *don't* know, but I never seem to do it.
***Did you ever notice that excessive humidity can make it feel either hotter OR colder than it is? But what I want to know is: At what temperature does it go from feeling hotter to feeling colder?
After the meet Lee and I walked all the way around World Showcase - just
because we felt like walking. We did see the holiday storyteller in
China - the Monkey King. He's always pretty entertaining. We missed
seeing Julenissen in Norway this year, who is one of my favorites. (And
not just because he sent me email! :-) ) The
live entertainment at Epcot is one of the things that keeps us coming
back over and over again - there's always something new and a little
different to see, and the quality of the performers is superb.
***Did you ever notice that the McDonald's french fly place next to Canada has some really interesting posters outside depicting McDonald's golden arches in very unusual places? I was just fascinated by these...Lee thought it was a little strange.
We arrived at the United Kingdom pavilion not too long before the RADP
Meet there, where we watched the World Showcase players perform "A
Christmas Carol". Appropriately enough, Lee was selected to play
Ebenezer Scrooge (he was Bob Scratchit last year), and he did a
wonderful job - he had the Players laughing (or trying not to!) once or
twice. Amy (Improvgal) got in on the fun, too, when the Ghost of
Christmas Present (a Tom Jones clone) "interviewed" her.
For dinner we went back over the Animal Kingdom Lodge (we seem to spend a lot of time there, don't we? I wish DVC would build a resort *there*!) to eat at Boma. Even though we got there not long after they opened it was still very, very, busy - when Lee commented on it, one of the ladies at the podium said "Welcome to Boma on a Saturday night". While we were waiting we enjoyed looking at their chefs' holiday decoration - a village made of chocolate and candy, I think. It's been so long I'm not sure! They put it right next to the stream that runs through the restaurant reception area and it looks pretty cool.
We had an excellent dinner - I really enjoy the variety of menu selections that are available there. Some things have flavors I don't care for (like curry), but there's still many that I like a lot! The pap had a *very* strange flavor this time - normally it's rather bland, but this time it had a very strong flavor, though we didn't figure out what the spice was.
***Did you ever notice that "pap" is pronounced "pop"? I didn't know that until this trip. I'm still assuming that "fufu" is pronounced, well, "foo-foo". :-)
And the desserts are ALWAYS wonderful - I could pay full price and just have dessert and be happy. I requested the recipes for their butternut squash soup and the Chocolate Mousse Crunch, and they arrived in my email less than two days later! I haven't tried either one yet, though.
After dinner we went out to the Savannah overlook - it was VERY chilly out there and there weren't very many animals (or people!) out. There was one Cast Member out answering questions - and trying to stay warm! We talked to him for quite a while - he's actually a *real* game warden from Zimbabwe where he guides safaris and carries an AK-47...more to protect him from poachers than from animals. He speaks 6 languages - five of them African. Rather than being on the college program (since he had already graduated) he was here on a management program of some kind - learning about Americans and their travel interests so that they can try to attract more American tourists to Zimbabwe.
It was about 8:30 when we got back to the Beach Club, so we pulled out another of Lee's DVDs and watched Lilo and Stitch. It was the first time we'd seen it - it was cute. Lee has decided that he needs a small Stitch to carry around to keep Tigger company...Tigger and Stitch...*there's* a combination for you! :-)
Sunday, December 15 - Epcot, home
Our last day...it was still on the cold side, but not raining. We did most of our packing and then took a last wander through Epcot and rode Test Track for the first time this trip, using the singles line. Most of the ride is boring, but the high speed speed loop around the building is a lot of fun. :-)
***Did you ever notice that the Anti-Lock brake test really *does* show your test car?
We went over the check on the progress of Mission:Space - it's looking really good. Some of the signage was up and we could see that there are dedicated entrances for "Standby", "Fastpass" and "Single" riders. Nice to be able to design that into the attraction instead of retrofitting it later!
Time to leave, so we said goodbye to Epcot, finished our packing and loaded the car and drove to the airport. (I did remember to take the Mickey antenna ball off of the rental car.) No particular travel hassles to speak of, and we arrived home in the early evening - though we had to settle for a regular towncar sedan instead of a stretch limousine! :-)
And now that my report is done...
I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!! :-)
***Did you ever notice that this is the end of my trip report? :-)
Tigger's Part of the Magic
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Laura Gilbreath firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 2/20/03