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Photo TR: Walt Disney World

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I've been to Walt Disney World many times, but the week before last was the first I had ever been with a child (not counting my sister when she was 6 and I was 9). I took my fiancee, Kelly, and her 5-year-old daughter, Lauryn, for their first-ever trip to Orlando, and they had a ball! It was interesting to see things not only from a kid's perspective, but also through the eyes of a first-time visitor at (age withheld upon request/threat).


They were both fully blown away, but my favorite quote from Kelly was: "Wow, now I understand why you always complain about everything. You're comparing it all to this!"


Anyway, on to the photos!


We took the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom (which Kelly said was sheer torture to be that close to and not go inside) and got to see a little of the Electric Water Pageant while walking to the resort bus depot. It was a great way to end our first night.


Coming up: Kelly and Lauryn's first visit to the Magic Kingdom!


...but it didn't hold a candle to this! This pineapple bread pudding a la mode with banana rum sauce was absolutely, hands down, the best thing I've ever eaten! Kelly later said she wished we had ordered seconds--not because either of us could have forced ourselves to eat another bite, but because she just wanted to be in its presence a little longer!


For dessert, Lauryn really liked her ice cream with Mickey Mouse sprinkles...


Kelly had fun, too. She got leied!


Despite repeated efforts, this blur was the best photo I could get of Lauryn in the conga line. I swear, if they could figure out a way to bottle her energy, we'd never have to worry about using fossil fuels again! For the rest of the night she kept telling us how excited she was about "that little party" she was invited to at the Hawaiian restaurant.


I showed up well dressed for the occasion! I wore that shirt all day, despite the temperatures at home being in the low 30s (for our friends using the Celsius system, that's near 0) when we left home.


This nice Hawaiian (probably pseudo-Hawaiian) lady came around to gather up all the kids for a limbo contest and conga line. Kelly really liked the way she phlegmed the state's name: "Hhhhawahhhhii"


For the main course, servers walked around carrying skewers of grilled shrimp, steak, turkey and pork (I liked the pork the best) and asking if you wanted more until you finally said no.


I was initially opposed to getting the dining plan, but it did allow us to eat at a number of places (like this one) we otherwise would not have been able to afford. I still don't like that our restaurant reservations more or less dictated our park schedules (which park we attended on which day, which rides to hit to ensure we were at our restaurant in time to meet our reservations, etc.), but I'd probably do it again. As everyone says, however, even the basic plan (which we got) delivers way too much food.


Soon enough, however, the good stuff came out. Those wings and the noodles were especially awesome... and those were just the appetizers!


"Awww, salad? Why did it have to be salad?"


"I can't wait for the first course to come!"


The earliest reservation we could get, three months out, was for late in the evening. However, we checked in early, planning to walk around and check out the resort for awhile, and ended up being seated almost immediately, 45 minutes ahead of schedule! Our table was right next to the grill. We got there just in time to see the fireworks from the end of Fantasmic! from the picture window on the other side.


And just why were we going to the Polynesian Resort? Well, why does anyone go to the Polynesian Resort?


Land ho!


Finally, it was time to make our way to dinner. After a short Disney Transport bus ride (Kelly chatted with most of the drivers throughout the trip, and we learned a lot of really interesting things--like that Disney World controls the second-largest bus fleet in the United States), we hopped a resort launch to the Polynesian Resort. This was Lauryn's first of many crying fits of the trip because she didn't get to pick where we sat (she caught on later that decisions at Disney have to be fairly quick). I'd actually heard on the radio just a few days before that statistically, more kids cry at Walt Disney World on any given day than any other place on Earth.


Lauryn couldn't quite grasp why I asked her to stand behind the big box instead of next to the puppy, but Kelly really appreciated the resulting photo. We also spent a little time in the arcade.


Me: "Do you want your picture taken with Herbie?"

Lauryn: "Who's Herbie?"

Me: "He's a car that's alive."

Lauryn: "But he's not moving. Is he dead?"

Me: "Just stand next to the car."


All the rides at Walt Disney World, and Lauryn was the most interested in this little play area that resembled the one at the park near our home. Actually, it was around this time that she started asking where the castle was. I tried a few different ways of explaining to her that while we technically were at Walt Disney World, Disney World was more than just the Magic Kingdom. After each try she kind of got a funny look on her face and said, "So we're not REALLY at Disney World?" Finally I just told her no, we weren't, but we'd be going there the next day.


Lauryn used to take ballet classes, so she really appreciated the giant dancer with the toy soldiers, even though she's never seen "Fantasia 2000" (or the original "Fantasia," for that matter).


"That was an inappropriate joke, see? Nyah, see?"


"That's nothing... have you seen my giant Woody?"


"Oh my, Buzz, what a big... helmet you have."


Kelly was too excited to get a lot of sleep the night before, and she had to get up slightly earlier than I did to get Lauryn ready (living in BFE, we had to leave by 8 a.m. to make our 1:30 p.m. flight), so she was dead tired by the time we actually got to our room. I took Lauryn on a tour of the hotel while Kelly took a little nap. We stayed in the Toy Story section.


A cast member in the lobby gave Lauryn a balloon with pictures of her favorite food on it. She wasn't sure whether to play with it or eat it!


We had checked into the All-Star Movies Resort online before leaving home, so our wait at the check-in counter wasn't long. Still, with approximatly 8,000 kids running around, I suggested to Kelly that I take Lauryn to the little Disney Channel theater they had set up in the lobby while she picked up our keys and got a confirmed list of our dining plan reservations. After settling into her theater seat, Lauryn looked up and me and said quiety, "Jason... I think we really ARE at Disney World, aren't we?" This is the real reaction shot.


During the 10 minutes we waited for our bus, we pointed out all the Mickey Mouse signs in the terminal and made an appeal to logic: What were all these pictures of Mickey Mouse doing around us if we weren't really going to Disney World? Supposedly we *told* the people to put all those Mickey Mouse signs there and to play the Disney World video on the bus as part of our elaborate hoax. Man, I wish we really had the power she apparently thinks we have!


So finally we got to the Disney's Magical Express check-in, and Kelly spring the surprise... only Lauryn was having none of it! She said she knew we were just teasing. For this shot, I asked her to show me what her face would look like if she believed we really were going to Disney World. After the pose she added, "That's what I'm going to do when we really do go."


Me: "Lauryn, are you excited about our trip?"

Lauryn: "I can't wait to see the big potato!"


OK, so here's the thing: We decided it would be best for our sanity--and heighten the surprise--if we didn't tell Lauryn we were going to Walt Disney World. She knew what Disney World was, and she knew we were going there "in the future," but to the best of her knowledge, this trip was taking us to Idaho to see the world's largest potato sculpture. This is Lauryn riding the Metro to the airport, completely unaware where she's actually going.

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Awesome tr so far. I went to disney world for the first

time since I was 6 or 7 last summer. I think I accidentally offended my friends family(I went to Florida with them) because when asked what my favorite resturant was I said Ohama. They may have been offended by that statement because the day before we ate at the much more expensive Brown Derby. Also... the peanut dipping sauce is extraordinary at Ohama. I'm looking forward to the rest of the tr.

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Kelly had highly anticipated the next day for a long time: her (and Lauryn's) first visit to the Magic Kingdom! We ended up spending the equivelant of two full days here, but this was our only "full" full day here, if that makes any sense. At any rate, enjoy!


By the time we took in one last ride--on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad--it was almost time for the park to close for the evening. We endeavored to take the train back to the main gate, but were told it stops running before the fireworks and doesn't start again until the next day. I understand why it wouldn't run during the fireworks, but why not operate it for the three hours the park was open afterward and people were the most tired? Sounds to me like Mickey was using the fireworks as an excuse to cut costs.... Kelly, with her bad ankle, was not amused.


At any rate, we hobbled back to the front gate and caught the bus back to our hotel, arriving just after midnight. Next up: more Magic Kingdom and World Showcase. Here's a hot piece of cowboy a** for you to look at in the meantime!


Looking for Spalsh Mountain? Well, it was closed during our entire visit! In fact, it's been closed all but two times that I've ever been to Disney World (and it hadn't yet been built the first time). I hold natatomic personally responsible.


The next morning, Kelly said she noticed nearly everyone in the audience was sitting in reverent silence during the whole show, except for shouting, "You tell 'em, girl!" and the like during the singing of "All the Guys Who Turn Me on Turn Me Down."


Kelly: "Was that because that show, with those bears and that kind of music, was a quasi-religious experience for them, or was it because they were as stunned as I was that something that stupid actually exists at Disney World?"


Me: "They liked it."


Kelly: "That's what I was afraid you were going to say."


We experienced another Disney Cluster immediately following the parade, though not nearly as bad as the fireworks cluster; a mini-cluster, if you will. At my urging, we escaped into the Country Bear Jamboree. This was the only attraction in all of Walt Disney World that Kelly did NOT like at all, likening it to "a Chuck E. Cheese in Tennessee."


You know, if I was a mouse and I had my own parade, I think I'd make my girlfriend bring up the rear, too.


At certain intervals, Tinkerbell flies by to change the entire parade from colored lights to white lights and back again.


You will believe a hippo can fly.


"Oh, look! It's my biggest fan!"


This parade brought to you in living color by NBC.


Oh... hi, Mickey!


Hmmm... wonder who that fanfare could be for?


We had thought once about sticking around Main Street after the fireworks for the Spectromagic parade, but after our Disney Cluster experience, Kelly was wary of trying to fight more crowds and taking the time to find a good spot just to have 40 people weasel their way in front of us 10 seconds before the parade started, so we initially decided to skip it. However, as we left The Haunted Mansion and started making our way to Frontierland, we found a largely deserted area of front-row parade viewing near the Hall of Presidents, so we settled right in.


After escaping the angry fireworks mob with only minor injuries, we attempted to ride the "Liberty Belle" only to discover it was closed for the night (and would remain closed the next morning) due to a technical difficulty. We decided to see the Hall of Presidents and take a ride on The Haunted Mansion (Lauryn's other favorite attraction--we rode it four times throughout the week) instead.


We had a hard time finding a spot for the fireworks, and when we did find one, enough people shoved in front of us to partially obstruct our view, but we got to see them at least. Afterward, Kelly got to experience her first "Disney Cluster" (short for "Disney Clusterf***). Basically, this is when Disney crams approximately 80,000 people into an area meant to hold about 500 for an event (fireworks, parades, Illuminations, Fantasmic! holding area, etc.), and when it's over, you'd better grab your kid and channel the instincts of an NFL linebacker if you want to survive and/or ever see your family again.


The sun set while we were in line for the car ride, and Lauryn started getting cold. Kelly bought her a sweatshirt, and I loaned her my hat for our alfresco dinner at Mrs. Potts' Cupboard--Chicken Parmesan sandwiches for Kelly and me, and a chili dog for Lauryn.


As much as I tried to explain it to her, Lauryn couldn't understand that this was a "driving experience" and not a race. About halfway through the course, she asked me if she was winning the race, so of course I told her she was. When we turned the corner and saw other cars in front of us, she asked how we could be winning if other people were ahead of us. I told her that because there were so many people at the Magic Kingdom, they had to run more than one race at once to fit everybody in, so the cars in front of us were really the last cars in the race just ahead of us. That made perfect sense to her, and when her grandfather called her two days later to say hello, the first thing she told him was that she won the car race at Disney World!


Though she claims "everything" was her favorite, I think I can safely say that this was Lauryn's favorite ride of the trip. She was so excited that they gave her her very own driver's license that she later proclaimed to her mother (Kelly sat this one out) that she was going to drive us all home when we got back to D.C.!


Not to be confused with Monstars of Rock.




I present, for your consideration, the second most unnecessary Fastpass of all time (behind only Honey, I Bored the Audience at Epcot). In fact, those two attractions, Universe of Energy and Tom Sawyer's Island were the only four non-World Showcase attractions (we didn't do any of the movies there) that we avoided by choice during our trip.


Of all the pictures I've taken of Lauryn, she never seems to look happer than when she's posing in a jail cell. I hope that wears off before she turns 18....


Lauryn wanted me to show "that lady that took (me) to California" on the West Coast Tour that she likes Chip 'n' Dale, too!


We got to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin only to discover that we were too late--apparently Buzz had been waiting for us to save the galaxy for about 50 years, and now all he was interested in was the early bird special at the Old Country Buffet.


Kelly really, REALLY liked this tree for some reason. Not sure why....


The Peoplemover was also a big hit. Kelly got to sit down, and Lauryn got to be elevated--two of their favorite things!


Kelly absolutely loved it! She named it among her top five Disney attractions (the others being the Hall of Presidents, Spaceship Earth, Mission Space and Pirates of the Caribbean). Lauryn liked it, too--but she wouldn't believe us when we told her all the "actors" in the show were really robots, nor would she believe that the seats, and not the stage, were what was moving.


OMG, the Carousel of Progress is open to celebrate its 45th anniversary! We can't pass this up!


All aboard!


Kelly's foot was bothering her again, so we caught the train to Tomorrowland. Lauryn's never met a train she didn't like, anyway, so it worked out well.


Wherever Donald is, it looks like he's naked... and not just from the waist down!


Lauryn really wanted to go on Donald's Boat, as well, but we didn't want her walking around in wet clothes for the rest of the day, so we let her admire it from afar.




Won't somebody please save the popcorn?


Hooray for well-themed Vekoma roller skaters!


Lauryn had been begging us all day to ride a roller coaster, so the time had finally come for Goofy's Barnstormer.


Hi, Elissa!


"Hi, I'm Lauryn. I'm your biggest fan!"


"Hi, I'm Lauryn. I'm your biggest fan!"


"Hi, I'm Lauryn. I'm your biggest fan!"


"Hi, I'm Lauryn. I'm your biggest fan!"


Look, Tyler! Minnie has "mouse-onaise!"


We took a tour of Minnie Mouse's house. My grandfather used to thin his brushes in old Maxwell House cans. Minnie uses Maxwell Mouse!


Instead of immediately hitting Tomorrowland, we visited Mickey's Toontown Fair in hopes of setting us up to be at the front of Tomorrowland in time to see that evening's fireworks over the castle.


At least the men's room was clearly marked....


We had already tamed Mickey's Philharmagic, Winnie the Pooh and Snow White's Scary Adventures, and by the time we got off the teacups it was nearly 1 p.m. All three of us were hungry, so it was fortunate that the restaurant we wanted to try, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, was right next door. I got the ribs, which were my main reason for choosing the place. They were OK for amusement park counter service food, but they won't win any awards.


Note the chocolate cake; a dessert came with every meal on the dining plan, plus we got a total of 21 snacks throughout the week. Forget the Freshman Fifteen; the new weight gain trend is the Disney Dozen.


"Jason, I'm going to spin us so fast that you puke!" Fortunately, 5-year-olds don't have a good grasp of speed, so a little acting on my part convinced her that she came close--otherwise, I might have been in trouble!


Next up was the Mad Tea Party, which Kelly wouldn't have ridden even if her foot was in good working order, so I was called into duty again.


Despite my arguement that she could ride one anywhere, Lauryn insisted that she be able to ride Cinderella's Carousel, and since the line was short, we said OK. I went in to help her onto the horse, and because the CM had locked the gates and wouldn't let me out, I ended up riding, too.


"By the way, they're real... and they're spectacular!"


So, we rode Dumbo, posed for some photos, got some stickers from a nice man at the Disney Vacation Club booth, picked up some Fastpasses for the Winnie the Pooh ride and *still* had 20 minutes left to wait in the Ariel line, our longest que of the trip. As we approached, Lauryn got nervous and said she didn't know what to say to Ariel. Kelly suggested telling her she was her biggest fan. It worked so well that Lauryn repeated the line for every single character we met for the rest of the week!


A more extreme version of the "the sun is in my eyes" pose.


"No, Jason, it's the part where we go up in the air! Duh!"


...or the fact that it can heal the crippled?


So what's the best part of the Dumbo ride: the pooping elephant topiary...


Kelly managed to trip on some steps and pull all the ligaments in her foot two weeks before our trip, so she had to take frequent breaks. She went to secure us a spot in the hour-long line to see Lauryn's favorite Disney character of all time, the Little Mermaid, while we stood in the 10-minute line for Dumbo.


I had no idea It's a Small World was a Jeff Johnson credit!


Kelly: "Look, Lauryn, this ride is full of singing dolls!"

Lauryn: "Can't we go on the pirate ride instead?"


Hidden Mickey in line for Peter Pan's Flight!


Responding to an inquisitive young lad during our ride, the trolly conductor said the crane was actually what they used to hold up the castle! In reality, they were removing the Christmas lights. In walking through the castle, there was a CM standing in front of the entrance to Cinderella's Royal Table, advertising that they had immediate Princess Breakfast openings. This not being the norm, we thought for a half-second about doing it... until we found out it would cost $115 for the three of us. By the way, Lauryn really was still in good spirits when I took this photo; this is her "the sun is in my eyes" face.


Fortunately, if there's one thing Lauryn likes more than characters, it's horses. As soon as she saw the trolly pull up (complete with singing and dancing cast members), she forgot all about Daisy Duck (who was standing on the other side of Pluto), and away we went!


Our initial plan had been to immediately catch the train so we didn't get caught up in the long lines to greet characters in Town Square. Lauryn immediately spotted Pluto, however, and our intentions when out the window.



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I'm glad that you decided to watch SpectroMagic - it's one of my favorites!


I could never do the dining plan - I couldn't eat 1/4 of the amount of food you get !


Looking forward to the rest of your report. I hope you didn't freeze. It's been so dang cold, here, this past month!

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This is a really neat PTR! Its nice to get a look at the park from a different perspective (the interests of a child rather than coaster/park enthusiast type of deal). Reminds me of when me and my family first made our trips to the parks when me and my sister were young; certainly not the same kind of magic in my visits now as there was then.

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Jason, I love your trip reports! You're a great writer and add in a good, flowing mix of storyline and personal opinion from photo to photo, which makes your reports fun and always entertaining to follow. I was also most impressed with the story you told Lauryn about visiting the potato sculpture in Idaho--for one thing, she looked happy enough to think she was going there (pretty impressive for a five-year-old), but what a great surprise that must have been for her, once she finally believed you!


Looking forward to more!



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Is it geeky that I heard the SpectroMagic fanfare cut in in my head, as I scrolled down to see the corresponding float photo?


It's a great report, and the whole Lauryn thing sounded like a really weird '30s slapstick farce, but (obviously) without the slapstick.

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Great TR! I love hearing about Disney from a kid's perspective, sounds like you guys had tons of fun. The story about how Lauryn didn't know you were going to Disney World was super cute, and what a great surprise it must have been for her!

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Thanks, all! In celebration of having the power back on today following a 29-hour outage, here's the next installment. We began the day finishing up a few things we missed at the Magic Kingdom, followed by a full afternoon and evening at Epcot. Enjoy!


Our second day at MK began with the first of many re-rides on The Haunted Mansion.


OMG, her eyes opened! Well, I knew they did... but Kelly sure was surprised!


We never miss an opportunity to put Lauryn in the stocks. Never!


Unfortunately, she made us stand in line for Aladdin's Flying Carpets. Sigh, the things we do for kids.


Next, it was off to the Jungle Cruise, which Kelly and Lauryn both especially enjoyed (and Kelly got slightly annoyed with me for singing Weird Al's "Skipper Dan" song while in line).


Hi, Bill!


Quoted for truth!


Aww, look at those lions watching over that sleeping zebra. He looks dead tired!


This couple is always looking for a hand out. We were especially careful when approaching the one on the left, named Ginger. Ginger snaps.


And now, the part of the TR you've all been waiting for: the backside of water!


I felt a little awkward taking a picture of this little fellow, but then I realized it was OK; all the elephants had their trunks on.


Afterward, I insisted we go see The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. Afterward, Kelly and I had this conversation:

Kelly: Why did you make us watch that?

Me: Because I wanted you to see what happens when they take a perfectly good attraction and completely, unapologetically turn it into crap."

Kelly: "If it wasn't for the Country Bear Jamboree, that would have been the worst thing I've ever seen on vacation."


The Hall of Presidents, just because it had been too dark for a photo the night before.


We had a late lunch scheduled at Le Cellier in Epcot, but were slightly hungry when we were preparing to finish up at the Magic Kingdom, so Kelly suggested we stop by Sleepy Hollow snacks and share a funnel cake. We sat on a table overlooking the castle, catching the end of the "Dream With Mickey" (I think that's what it was called) show. Kelly said it was the best funnel cake she'd ever eaten.


On the way across the bridge back to Main Street USA, we saw Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen. Lauryn really, really wanted to meet Princess Tiana, so we went to get in line, only to be told it had been cut off, better luck next time, sending Lauryn into a minor fit. I understand union rules and whatnot, but I really have a bone to pick when it comes to the way they manage the character lines at Walt Disney World--especially Epcot. But we'll get to that in a moment.


This is how we knew we were at Epcot! It was also one of Kelly and Lauryn's absolute favorite attractions at WDW.




Say what you will about the new video screens at the end of the ride; they absolutely MADE the attraction for Lauryn.


After our inaugural journey on Spaceship Earth, Lauryn and I challenged each other to a game of Power City. We moved enough energy credits to power a small metropolis!


I had been waiting awhile for this....


So, Kelly, what do you think of Beverly?


OMG, Lauryn loved it! This is not a staged photo! She really loved it! She even had seconds! Freaky kid!


Why Epcot is so awesome, scene No. 1.


At 3 p.m. we made our way to Le Cellier for our 3:30 reservation. Unlike Ohana, however, we didn't get in early. In fact, we were 10 minutes later getting in than our reservation said (Disney asks for a 15-minute grace period, so... I guess that's OK).


According to our server, the restaurant is divided into areas representing different principalities. I don't remember which one we sat in, but it looked like this.


I got the chef's special combo, which enabled me to get the famous cheddar cheese, bacon and beer soup on the dining plan without having to pay extra. It was everything I always dreamed it would be! Seriously, it was so thick and rich, it was almost like eating cheese flan!


For the main course, Kelly got the strip steak, which she thoroughly enjoyed.


I, on the other hand, got the shaved prime rib sandwich, which was an amazing complement to the soup.


Then it was time for dessert. Kelly got the chocolate whiskey cake, which she like, but I didn't particularly.


Which was fine because I got the second-best dessert (behind the pineapple bread pudding at Ohana) of the entire trip here: maple creme brulee. I still have dreams about it.


We tried to get Lauryn to wear this sticker over her mouth for the rest of the trip. Sadly, the quiet respite lasted only about five seconds.


Outside the restaurant, we paused for a few minutes to take in a couple songs from Off Kilter.


Kelly was excited about the prospect of saving some walking by taking the World Showcase water taxis. For better or worse, however, our itenerary was arranged in such a way that they weren't necessary.


OK, here's my rant about the character lines at Disney. In Mickey's Toon Town Fair, most of the characters are located behind closed doors, where parents can stand in line with kids or not. As far as the kids are concerned, it's an "out of site, out of mind" proposition. They might know Mickey and Minnie are inside that building, but if they can't see them... well, then a second ride on Goofy's Barnstormer might seem more appealing. I told the Princess Tiana story above, which was unfortuante, but at least they were cutting off the line. At Epcot, Lauryn saw Marie from "The Aristocats," and we just had to go get her picture taken; Marie is, for some reason, one of Lauryn's favorite Disney characters (second only to Ariel). She even has a Marie doll that she sleeps with at night.


So we stood in line for 15 minutes, and just as we were the next people ready to step up, the cast member announced that Marie was going away, better luck next time (more or less). Again, I understand union rules, and if they have to stop people from getting in line, that's one thing. But to make everyone stand in line and then all of a sudden, "Sorry about your luck"--well, that's about the most un-Disney thing I've ever experienced at a Disney park. Unfortunately, this wasn't the only time this happened, and it always seemed to occur just as we were about to walk up to the character; after awhile, I think Lauryn was beginning to think all the characters hated her for some reason.


At least there was no line to watch this guy next to Marie stack chairs....


I told Kelly to make sure she flashed her engagement ring around the Moroccan pavillion to make sure she didn't get hit on. No clue why she took it off when we walked through there....


And then we made it to my favorite World Showcase pavillion, Japan, where we got to see a candy-making demonstration...


...and a search for pearls!


Monchhichis mean happiness! (Note: Not my personal opinion; just an obscure '80s cartoon reference).


OMG, it's like I've died and gone to Pocky heaven!


I got crabs at Epcot.


Time to take a 20-minute look at the America that never was... and always will be.


But first, a few words, sung harmonically, from the Voices of Liberty. (There was also a pretty crappy exhibit on American innovation in the adjacent room. If you get a chance, be sure to skip it; I have better collection of Americana than the handful of reproductions and "similar to this one" stuff they had on display.)


Flags! Why did it have to be flags?


These are the spirits of various things, captured, encased in marble and waiting for Harry Potter to come set them free.


Why Epcot is so awesome, scene No. 2.


We got to Germany a little early for our 7 p.m. reservation, but just in time to see the clock ceremony, which I had never witnessed before.


A little "Pirates of the Caribbean" humor is always appreciated!


We continued on around the World Showcase before venturing back for dinner, allowing Lauryn to stop and beat some drums at the quasi-African pavillion and then waiting in line to ride Maelstrom. After the ride, we stood in line even longer to get out! They had just started the movie (that absolutely no one has ever stuck around to watch) and wouldn't open the doors to let us into the theater/out of the building until it was over and ready to start again. Meanwhile, the mass of people waiting to get out kept growing and growing until everyone was pressed up against each other. We were not amused.


Finally, the time had arrived for our meal overlooking a quaint German village.


And we were in luck! Who knew it was Oktoberfest time? (Just like it is about 12 times a day at Epcot....)


Lauryn LOVED it when they invited kids down on the floor to dance! Unfortunately, this meant she wasn't eating anything, and that meant by the time we waited for her to dance then eat, it was time for a whole new Oktoberfest show to start. We were on a timeline to see the Mexico pavillion and then get a spot for IllumiNations... she just wanted to dance. When we told her it was time to leave, she had a meltdown of massive proportions that lasted at least 30 minutes.


I, on the other hand, got some delectable German food, AKA the best food on the planet. I call this the "sampler platter"... because it consists of more or less every single item on the buffet! Just FYI for the unlightened, however... German meatloaf? Yep, in the States, we call it Spam (at least that's what the Epcot version tasted--and looked--like).


Lauryn's meltdown lasted up until right around the time I took this picture and we told her she was going to see the Three Caballeros. She likes the Three Caballeros.


Finally, it was time for IllumiNations and the end of our day. Unfortunately, it was not without some difficulty. First, this was going on EVERYWHERE. Teenagers, take note: Please, while at Walt Disney World, have some respect for yourself and your partner and don't dry hump them on the walkways or outside the attractions at Epcot. It makes you look bad, and it makes Disney look bad.


Second, as soon as the very first firework went off, the entire population of Brazil attempted to bum rush the area we were standing, more or less knocking Lauryn over in the process and endeavoring to stand directly in front of her (she was at the front of the railing overlooking the lagoon). I quickly stuck my arm out, struck a Superman pose and blocked them from running into her anymore, but you know... a lot of the stereotypes about these Brazilian tour groups exist because they're true.


After the show, we formed a human chain to survive yet another Disney Cluster (not as bad as the ones at MK, but still not great as far as crowd control) and made our way back to the All-Star Movies for yet another fun-filled Disney Day!


Next up: Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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I love this TR! Its awesome to see it through the eyes of a child, especially at that age when they really believe in it all. Also, remind me never to tell my boyfriend about the dining plan. He would just love having to eat all of that food esp all the desserts! Madness! Looking forward to seeing the rest.

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That's unfortunate, about your experience with the character lines. In our experience, they generally cut off the line at the end, before you stand and wait 15 minutes for nothing, and they usually will tell you the character will be back in x minutes. We had this happen one time at Animal Kingdom, with Pluto and Goofy. The kids wanted to wait for them, and when they came back, we received extra attention from the characters, for waiting for them.


Sounds like the handlers weren't handling very well.

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^That's what they did at most lines in the Magic Kingdom and in one that we ended up waiting around for at Animal Kingdom, but it wasn't consistent by any means. The worst offender was Epcot. It seemed like no matter what line we got in there, they cut it off as soon as we got within three people of the character with nothing more than "We'll be back later."


At any rate, as we say here on the East Coast anymore, another day, another blizzard. We're snowed in again, but at least we have electricity this time (so far). I think that means it's time for another update. Enjoy our day at Disney's Animal Kingdom!


Our day began with Lauryn playing her favorite game, "Guess That Poop!"


Tree of Life? Check!


First ride of the day: Kilimanjaro Safari.


Behold, the world's most photographed termite mound!


Look, Thompson's gazelles! Not to be confused with Johnson's gazelles. Or gazelles' Johnsons. Or....


Is it just me, or do these guys look kinda horny?


Too bad there weren't a couple more smaller ones in front. It would have been like giraffe stacking cups!


One of these elephants is real...


...and one is not.


OK, I've about had it with Expedition Everest. After the safari, I walked to Asia to get Fastpasses for this ride. When we went back to ride it three hours before park closing, it had broken down and didn't reopen for the rest of the day. Now that's all good and well... except that's the THIRD time since this attraction opened that it's broken down when I've attempted to ride it, and I'm starting to take it personally!


Meanwhile, Kelly stayed behind near the safari exit and tried to order coffee... I say "tried" because between the two cast members at the walk-up place chatting amongst themselves, it took her--the only person in line--three attempts to get waited on. Really, Disney? I mean, it was most definitely an isolated incident, and we had nothing but great service everywhere else on property, but dang, that's Cedar Point standards right there.


As we began our trek down the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Lauryn volunteered to translate this sign for us: "No smoking and no bananas."


Fish, however, are not banned.


"Have I ever told you about my cousin at Disneyland? He gets shot at like 200 times a day."


"Stop staring at me, or I'm going to eat the other half of that gorilla!"


"He's not kidding! Please don't stare!"


Now that Jon and Kate are gone, these are probably just about the most famous reality stars on TV.


"Om nom nom nom."


"Sigh. I wish I had a kitty."


"I'd be your kitty... but you keep saying you don't like roleplay."


Nothing says "Disney" like a sign themed to rusty, corrugated metal!


All aboard!




OMG, the Dick Kinzel takeover of Animal Kingdom has begun!


Kelly's foot wasn't feeling so hot after the walk from the train depot to the Conservation Station, so she decided to take a rest while Lauryn and I visited...


...the petting zoo!


Of course, petting sheep isn't nearly as much fun as brushing them!


Old MacDonald had a farm, EIEIO. And on this farm he had a cow, EIEIO. With a "moo moo" here...


...and an "oink oink" there...


...and a dead llama there....


Much like TPR, the Animal Kingdom section of Walt Disney World has theme parks, roller coasters AND donkeys!


Kelly still wasn't feeling quite up to snuff, so Lauryn and I went to check out the Conservation Station.


Inside we found crickets...


...and tigers...


...and poop, oh my! (I want to know where they found the little hat.)


We got to Rafiki just before his line closed... but while we were taking this picture, Pocahontas, who was one line over, left. Since Lauryn's favorite Christmas present last year was a Pocahontas doll, we just HAD to stay and see her (I was threatened!), so we walked around for awhile and discovered that the Conservation Station, while educational, is quite boring.


During our wait, we walked around and looked at the world's most boring nature displays, listened to sounds of the rainforest, contemplated standing in the Jiminy Cricket line again, took pictures with a rhinoceros...


...and watched a little presentation about rats. Lauryn was chosen to particpate by demonstrating how to balance (which rats apparently use their tails to do). For her efforts, she received a pencil made out of recycled jeans.


"Not that it's any of your business, but since you asked... no, I'm not wearing a buckskin thong."


We just missed the train back to civilization and had to wait for the next one, thus arriving late for our lunch reservation at the Tusker House. But they let us in, nonetheless.


This was plate No. 1 of three. Kelly enjoyed this restaurant so much that she said it tied with Ohana as her favorite of the trip (and likely would have topped Ohana if not for the pineapple bread pudding).


That said, with the exception of the banana bread pudding, I found the desserts at Tusker House to be slightly lacking--in taste if not appearance.


After lunch, we let Lauryn beat on some more African drums for about two minutes, but cautioned that there was plenty more to see, and time was a-wastin'.


Thar be bones! That can only mean one thing...


...Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama!


Though they probably could have done something better with this land than a games and kiddie carnival area, I do really like the gift shop that was there first (the "Dino-Rama" portion of Chester & Hester's didn't exist when Animal Kingdom first opened; it was just the name of this tourist-trap-like store). I especially like the inside, where you can tell they've expanded the store right over the parking lot without worrying about little things like a floor, and the blatently painted-over gas sign among the many perched on the roof.




Oooh! I wonder if they have a chamber of commerce.


Close enough. Let's go!


Not our dino!


Kelly and Lauryn loved Dinosaur (nee Countdown to Extinction) so much that we rode it twice. By the way, can anyone tell me what significance these pipes have to the attraction's former sponsor. The first person to get it right earns bragging rights (keeping in mind that even the smartest Disney geek is still a geek).


Spinning mouse at Disney. Oooh.


Just like Dumbo and Aladdin's Flying Carpets before it, Lauryn made me ride Triceratop Spin with her. She is a hub-and-spokes fiend!


OK, this was hilarious! Instead of the line cutting off right before we reached the characters for a change, we were the last people in line who actually got to see Goofy and Pluto before they went on their breaks. Kelly was so excited that she accidentally and verly slightly brushed Goofy with her... posterior as she turned around for the photo. Goofy made a HUGE show of it, stumbling backwards with his hands flailing, running into the wall and looking around as if to pantomime "What just happened?" Meanwhile, the photographer standing next to me leans over to me and says, "Wha-ha-ha-hooey!" Animal Kingdom was our least favorite park of the trip, but this was definitely one of our favorite moments!


Shortly thereafter, Kelly's foot started bothering her again, so we had a little rest on a bench when this little fellow came over.


Lauryn: "What's he doing, Mommy?"

Kelly: "He's coming over to see if we have anything to eat."


Lauryn: "What does he eat, Mommy?"

Kelly: "It looks like he's eating French fries off the ground. Uh oh, I think he thinks you're a French fry!"




But enough monkeying around. We still have attractions to see!


Like "It's Tough to Be a Bug."


After Bug, we walked back, hopes diminished, to see if Everest was running yet, which of course it wasn't. By that time it was nearly 5 p.m., when the park closed, so we decided to just head back to the hotel in anticipation of an evening at Downtown Disney. We were all tired, and it had gotten pretty hot that day for our tastes (it was one of only two days we were there that the temperature cracked 80). We got nearly to the front gate, when a cast member stopped us and told us that we weren't allowed to go any farther because they had blocked off the area for the parade, and we were more or less out of luck. We thought it was pretty ridiculous, but grudingly had a seat and waited for the parade anyway. And waited. And waited.


About 15 minutes later, the closest thing we had seen to any kind of parade was a lone roaming soda vendor and I was tired enough that I decided we were going to find a way out of the park regardless. We cut through some gift shops and finally made our way out of the parade area when Lauryn had a major, major meltdown because Kelly wouldn't buy her a Sprite. She cried and threw a tantrum that more than an hour, on the way out of the park, on the walk to the resort bus stops, during the wait for the bus, all the way to our hotel and for another half hour or so after we got to our room. I still don't remember how it finally ended, but it was nasty.


So I'm going to end the Animal Kingdom section of this TR here with this serene photo and just pretend that the last hour or so of our day at Animal Kingdom never took place at all. Up next: Downtown Disney.

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We also found the "forced" wait at the end of Maelstrom to watch the film a little annoying. We rode it at the end of the night and the kids were tired - we all just wanted to go back to the time share. Unfortunately, we were the first one's in the waiting area and had to wait about fifteen minutes before the place loaded up with other riders.


Looks like we should have got the Meal Pass, as the food you guys got at Animal Kingdom and Epcot looked wonderful. Ours? Not so good...


Make sure you cut those Brazilian tour groups plenty of slack! Most of these groups have probably never visited a theme park before and simply don't know the rules. Try to explain to your young one's the reason twelve people are cutting in front of you after an hour long wait in line for a ride, or trampling over you (or your son/daughter) while you're trying to enjoy a parade (or fireworks show) is because they don't understand theme park rules, regulations and that it is an entirely different culture. If your kid still asks how come they're allowed to break rules and we aren't, make sure to mention how they're stimulating the local and U.S. economy, therefore there should be some leeway for such actions...

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Despite having no work today, I woke up early this morning after unfortunately pulling my trapezium (neck muscle) in my sleep, and it feels better sitting up than lying down at this point, so I figure that's as good an excuse as any for a brief update. Depending on how well my heating pad and ibuprofen work today, I may be on here quite a lot....


At any rate, enjoy Downtown Disney!


After a spin through the Christmas shop, we made our way to the real reason we (I) chose to visit Downtown Disney: the Earl of Sandwich! As always, I got the sliced prime rib, which was decadent.


I promised a friend of mine I would get her some taffy, and since I also wanted to find some confections to bring home to my parents, we decided to visit Goofy's Candy Co. instead of just picking up a random bag of taffy that was sold at every single store in Walt Disney World. This jellybean portrait reminded me of our surprise Jelly Belly factory tour on the West Coast Trip.


Remember that "big potato" story at the beginning of the TR? We told Lauryn this was it! (She didn't believe us.)


However, she did enjoy the Mr. Potato Head station inside.


We thought once about going up in the balloon. Then we thought again.


I'm sure they were probably there, but I didn't remember these city scenes in the windows of the Lego store during past visits. I wonder if Lego will pull its store from Downtown Disney once Legoland Florida opens.


Tokyo Disneyland shout out!


Is that the new "Up" ride at Disneyland Paris?


I totally expect the TPR Australia trip to include dog sledding on the Sydney Opera House.


Lauryn gets offended if I take too many pictures in a row without including her. So here she is with Russia.


Ah, a prelude to June!


But enough with the windows; let's go inside, shall we? Look, a Lego Lego Indiana Jones!


Am I alone in thinking that, while a Lego carousel sounds amazing on paper, it didn't really translate that well in real life?


The pirate ship was way cooler!


Need a single Lego in a particular color? Look no more@!


Another play station for Lauryn!


Giant crab!


Sadly, there was no Lego giant octopus.


"It's not easy being green."




Kelly was exhausted, so we didn't venture over to the West Side, instead opting to end our Downtown Disney tour with the World of Disney. I wandered around while Kelly helped Lauryn find an Ariel locket, which she wanted to buy with the money her grandmother gave her to spend (she had enough left over for a Simba doll, as well). During this endeavor, Kelly's foot went from bad to worse, and she was barely able to hobble back to the resort buses. She was well enough to walk by the next day... but man, that was scary!


Up next: Disney's Hollywood/Pixar/MGM Studios.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've been able to update this thread! Fortunately, I've finished most of my errands for the weekend, and I have the apartment to myself for a little while while fiancee and stepdaughter-to-be have a girls' day out with some of their friends, so without further ado, I present our day at Disney's Hollywood/MGM/Pixar Studios!


The day started with yet another huge fight as Lauryn insisted, against our wishes, that she was going to take her new Simba doll to the park with her because "he'll be lonely" otherwise. After a 30-minute crying session, we finally "compromised" and left Simba in the room... on the condition that he be placed in a position that he could get out and enjoy the hotel facilities if he wished. *sigh*


Our first stop, of course, was Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which for some reason didn't open until an hour after the rest of the park (I didn't know Cedar Fair had acquired Disney). When we got there, they wouldn't even let us in line until the doors opened, which was about 30 minutes away... which sucked because that didn't give us time to do anything else. I used part of the time to walk back and get us Fastpasses for Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, but we otherwise more or less had to stand around and waste 30 minutes. When we did finally get in to see the show, Lauryn thought it was so beautiful, she cried.


While waiting, we walked around that area and more or less examined the exteriors of the buildings. Lauryn was excited to see this poster because she thought it meant there was a ride based on her next-favorite movie, "The Princess and the Frog." We told her it was just a poster. She cried, of course, and insisted that there was too a "Princess and the Frog" ride; we just didn't want her to ride it because we didn't like her. *sigh*


So on what day of the calendar does "Holiday" fall, anyway?


In another example of annoying scheduling, the Playhouse Disney show, which we absolutely *had* to see, began exactly two minutes before Voyage of the Little Mermaid let out, and of course, entry was not granted once the show began. We rode the Great Movie Ride instead and then came back.


When we finally did get in to see the Playhouse Disney show, there weren't any seats in the auditorium! You would think that Disney could afford a few chairs! Lauryn didn't mind, but by the time the show was over, both my legs were asleep.


I suggested that this show might be fun. Lauryn suggested that it would not, so we skipped it. (I'd seen it before, anyway.)


The Jedi Training Academy caused the worst meltdown of the day. The original "Star Wars" movies are Kelly's favorites, so Lauryn naturally wanted to prove she was a "big girl" by standing up to Lord Vader. Kelly checked with the Disney castmember at the line for kids to participate and was told that no only was the current show full, but so was the next show. Kelly told Lauryn we didn't have time to sit through three shows so she could have a *chance* to possibly fight with Darth Vader, and Lauryn completely lost it. She cried about it intermittently for the next two days.


Nonetheless, Kelly did enjoy Star Tours.


And Lauryn did get to pose on the Star Speeder.


After taking in an abbreviated showing of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectatular (they did the temple scene and the marketplace scene, but not the airport scene), we were ready to partake of our lunchtime-ish (1:30 p.m.) dining reservations. Did we go to the Brown Derby? No....


Did we go to Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction? No....


Did we go to the ABC Commissary? No....


Did we go to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater? Could be....


Now, my last experience at this restaurant several years ago was decidedly bad. The waiter took our order; a half hour later, someone else brought our order, sans silverware. Our waiter never came back to check on us, even after we twice stopped other waiters and told them we needed forks and drink refils, and my sister ended up eating her salad with her fingers. We had to wait another half hour after eating for our waiter to finally come back with the check, and during that time we half considered just walking out without paying (hey, they obviously had no clue we were still there...). But I knew Kelly and Lauryn would enjoy the ambiance, so we made reservations here anyway. Fortunately, our experience was the antithesis of my last visit, with amazing food and an extremely attentive waiter.


Lauryn received her second driver's license of the trip!


The theming here was even better than I remembered, with a Los Angeles address on the fake pay phone in the waiting area...


And a real Los Angeles phone number on the dial (though curiously, it doesn't match the phone number listed on the address card)!


If you ever find yourself at the Sci-Fi Dine-In, I *strongly* encourage you to try the shrimp pasta! Out of all the fancy (and more expensive) places we dined on Disney property, this was one of the best meals we had!


The peanut butter-chocolate cake was also very good, though neither Kelly nor I could finish our individual portions. The waiter thought it was funny that by the end, both of us had just cracked open the outer shell and scooped out the peanut butter inside.


On our way back to Sunset Boulevard to cash in our previously obtained Fastpasses, I stopped by the restroom, and by the time I came out, Lauryn had been conscripted into a game with a crew from the Hollywood Department of Public Works. Her team captain was Sparky, the city electrician.


If anyone has ever seen the old "Bozo Show" on WGN (or played beer pong), this game will look familiar.


In the end, Lauryn's team came in second, and she received a pencil made to look like a rolled-up $100 bill.


OK, here's a confession: Because I didn't really want to do Tower of Terror, but Kelly and I both wanted to ride Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, so when I went to get those Fastpasses, I sort of used Lauryn's ticket to get a Rock 'n' Rollercoaster Fastpass for Kelly. Shhhh....


While Kelly made the rounds of the Sunset Boulevard thrill rides, Lauryn and I went on a character hunt and found the Little Einsteins...


...and the cast from "Up." As a side note, for all the crying Lauryn did, she never cried or got upset at all when it was just her and me, though she had plenty of reasons to (like the long line for the "Up" characters or the mysteriously vanishing Pocohontas at Animal Kingdom). Methinks maybe some of the crying is less an emotional reaction and more of an attention-getter.


We met up with Kelly again at the pre-appointed time, and then it was my turn to Fastpass it on to Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, my first-ever ride on this particular attraction. As much as I generally dislike launched coasters, it was pretty fun.


From there, it was on to the Pixar Studios section of the park, where I had sneaked off to earlier in the day to grab Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania.


We got there just in time to see Luxo, Jr. do his thing.


With several months' worth of ballet lessons under her belt, Lauryn couldn't help but dance along with the giant lamp.


We still had time before our Toy Story Fastpasses came due, so we made a detour to the Backlot Studio Tour.


None of us were in a very good mood by this point, as Kelly had managed to lose the hat I'd asked her to hold for me while I was on Rock 'n' Rollercoaster (which we eventually recovered), and Lauryn was... well, Lauryn. I was pretty happy to see this guy get pummeled with water...


...and these two get shot at.


This building from "The Hannah Montana Movie" was one of the only new things on the tour since my last visit in 2008... or my last visit before that, in 2005. They really don't seem to freshen things up much around these parts.


The prop warehouse was basically a tribute to Disney attractions past, with a strong focus on '90s TV shows. I suspect this "Dinosaurs" sign came from a parade float or meet 'n' greet area.


From the former "Home Improvement" walk-through set at Disney-MGM.


We see you, former World of Motion props!


It's not easy being green... especially when you're a water tower!


True story: During my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1987, I witnessed a crain hoisting the first ear up to this thing.


Witness an airplane from "Pearl Harbor."


The bone cage from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."


"Con Air" used to be a favorite movie of mine.


In the former Backlot Studio Tour area now taken over by the Lights, Motors, Action! show (farewell, "Empty Nest" house), we got to see two halves of Herbie.


We then saw "demolition derby" Herbie from the Lindsay Lohan remake--not to be confused with "demolition derby" Lindsay Lohan.


Can I get a "what what" for Walt Disney's personal plane?


Oh noes, that oil tanker caught on fire! I sure hope a flash flood comes along to put it out....




I'll take "Great TV Shows That Never Should Have Been Canceled," Alex.


More "Star Wars" references!


No Disney's Hollywood/MGM/Pixar Studios photo TR would be complete without a shot of New York Street!


I was wholeheartedly surprised that this exhibit didn't bring up the whole "I want to fight with Darth Vader" argument again.


The introduction of the dual-sided light sabre was possibly the best thing about "Episode One."


Lightspeed to Endor!


Apparently this has something to do with "The Chronicles of Narnia." I've never seen the movies or read the books, so I wouldn't know anything about it, but Kelly was pretty excited to see it.


This also.


I thought Davy Jones' organ from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" was pretty cool.


Captain Barbossa's costume was pretty neat, as well.


If you made a pact with Davy Jones, these would be the clothes you'd wear.


Kelly and Lauryn were also pretty excited to see the costumes from "Enchanted."


Pandering for "Bryan and Adam Show" approval.


Finally, our Toy Story Mania Fastpasses came due! I got them at 11:30 that morning and had to wait until 5:30 that afternoon to use them--the longest wait of any Fastpass we got during the entire trip!


The theming here is really top-notch.


Of course, it helps that they had a fully functional blueprint to follow.


The awesome themeing continued on the inside. Not sure, though, why they used the original 1940s, '50s and '60s designs for some of the board games (like Candy Land).


They also conspicuously left the manufacturers' names off all the boxes.


Lauren's not a huge "Toy Story" fan, but she was super excited to ride this attraction after seeing repeated commercials for it. Even before she knew we were going to Walt Disney World, she would point at the TV every time the ad came on and say, "I want to ride that!"


Anything that shoots is OK with Lauryn!


I won a beaver!


I took this picture for the Jim Henson's Creature Shop sign, but now that I'm looking at it... is there some reason Disney still has a "Home Improvement" sign up? Didn't that show go off the air like a decade ago?


Welcome to San Francisco Street... merely footsteps away from Six Flags Family Kingdom Street!


The last of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights were coming down. See you again in eight months, lights!


I absolutely love "MuppetVision 3-D." Kelly thought it was just OK, and Lauryn claimed she didn't like it at all (she was crying again about the Jedi Training Academy at the time).


We opted to skip "American Idol" Experience on account of none of us particularly care for "American Idol." But I felt a photo should be taken anyway since it was new since my last visit. So here it is.


OK, here's where things got interesting. We rushed from MuppetVision 3-D to make our dinner reservation at Hollywood and Vine. When we made the original reservation, it was supposed to be part of the Fantasmic! dinner package. Then when we got to the park that day, we learned there was no Fantasmic! showing that night. Which sucked. A lot. Then when we got to the resturant that evening, we were told that because there was no Fantasmic! showing that night, the restaurant was shut down. So not only were we out reserved seating for Fantasmic! as well as a table service meal on the dining plan that we could have used at a better restaurant, but I was also out of an all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet. The conversation went something like this (and I'm not exaggerating):


DISNEY EMPLOYEE WHO CAN BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH: "Oh, ah, sorry, we are, ah, closed."

ME: "We have a reservation."

DISNEY EMPLOYEE: "Oh, ah, sorry, we are, ah, closed."

ME: "I have a reservation that says you're open."

DISNEY EMPLOYEE: "Oh, ah, sorry, we are, ah, closed."

ME: "And when I go to guest relations and tell them the castmember out front wouldn't honor our reservation, what should I tell them your name is?"

DISNEY EMPLOYEE: "Um... maybe I should go get the manager."


When the manager came out, he apologized profusely, took us next door to the '50s Prime Time Cafe, explained the situation to the hostess and told her that we should be seated immediately, which we were. While it was an OK dining experience, I was pretty appalled that A) When we we called a week in advance to re-confirm our dining reservations and then re-confirmed them again upon check-in, no one seemed to know that there was no Fantasmic! showing that night nor that the restaurant would be closed (apparently the schedule had changed prior to the beginning of the new year--a month before our trip), and B) that until I threatened to complain to Guest Services, the general attitude was, "Yep, we're closed. Sorry about your luck."


The inside was pretty well themed. My only quibble was that among the old TV clips that they showed were a couple scenes from "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which was from the '60s, not the '50s.


Each table was themed to a kitchen in some way, and '50s-style TVs were everywhere. Fortunately, our server, Cousin Lisa, could tell pretty easily that we were tired, hungry and had just about had it with Disney for the day, so she took it very easy on us as far as the acting went (at other tables, "moms" were scolding patrons for not eating their vegetables, putting their elbows on the table, etc.).


Even the bar was themed to look like someone's rec room about 55 years ago.


I got a steak, which, while good, was a far cry from prime rib and not nearly as good as our lunch earlier in the day at the Sci-Fi Dine-In.


The dessert menu was on a View-Master reel!


Based on the photos, we all decided on the warm apple crisp.


When it came out, it was more or less a can of overly sweet, very syrupy apple pie filling with a few toasted oats thrown in for good measure, topped with a scoop of ice cream. It wasn't great, but it was probably the best thing on the dessert menu.


I didn't realize until looking at this picture that Kelly and Lauryn were both wearing Mickey Mouse shirts that day!


I saw the original building this one was based on during my self-guided tour of Los Angeles the day before last year's West Coast Trip began. It was pretty cool (it's a Caribbean restaurant instead of a camera shop now).


I thought I had read that this shop had closed. Though I'm glad it didn't, its inventory really has gone downhill. With the exception of a couple soap opera-worn gowns and a handful of actor-owned items, it mostly just has autographs, movie posters and reproduction items now. I thought it was cool with it used to actually carry a wide variety of TV and movie props.


By the time we left, Lauryn was crying over the Jedi thing yet again, and we were beyond ready to go. It wasn't in the original plans, but we'd be back the next day to experience the ultimate Disney cluster: Fantasmic!

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I love this trip report! Lauryn is extremely cute.


It's a shame that you encountered quite a few hiccups in your experience. I'm the oldest child of four in my family, so believe me, I've witness those kinds of tantrums at parks. I can't wait to see how your report ends.

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I rode Countdown to Extinction when Animal Kingdom was open for resort guests, and someone in line claiming to be an imagineer said that those labels on the pipes were formulas for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. At first glance it looks like that might be partly true. I see salt in the ketchup and my guess is the other ingredients are in latin by the looks of it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Time to work on bringing this thread to a close (so I can start the other photo TRs I have waiting in the cue). Before the start of the trip, I had what I thought was (and continue to think is) a brilliant time management idea: Because I knew Kelly would have trouble walking long distances due to the torn ligaments in her ankle, and I knew Lauryn would be tired if we tried to do all of Epcot in one day, we pretended that the park was actually two parks. On our first Epcot day, we didn't really go to "Epcot," but to World Showcase. On the second, we toured Future World, as if it was a million miles away from World Showcase. The tactic worked well, and we had a fairly nice day to show for it, with minimal meltdowns. Enjoy!


As the week wore on, we resigned ourselves to renting another stroller for Lauryn. She liked this one the best because they gave her a "princess crown" to wear with it. (Actually, it's a Statue of Liberty crown, but no 5-year-old wants to be the Statue of Liberty.)


Hey, Disney wants me to drink and drive!


Lauryn liked this exhibit because the paint job reminded her of Toodles from "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."


It's like a crash test dummy serial killer was on the loose in here!


The TPR Moon Wars have begun! Now that you've been hit, send this photo to 20 friends. Happy TPR!


This is what we'll be riding. Yep.


And this is what we'll be riding in.


And this is what we wish we were riding in!


As soon as she saw this, Kelly fell madly in love with this ride.


This just sealed the deal! Oh, and when Lauryn refused to push the button Gary told her to, Kelly told her our spaceship was going to crash because of it. Fun times.


The wind was blowing so hard that day, the fountains synchronized to music were blowing sideways. Or as Kelly dubbed them "Monsoon: The Musical."


Now on to the new Lucky Charms ride, with green turtle, purple stingray and blue shark marshmallows!


After the ride, Lauryn decided she wanted to spend ALL DAY in Bruce's Sub House. A few minutes was fine, but I got a little PO'd after awhile because by that time, we were on somewhat of a schedule to get everything done. I told Kelly that if all Lauryn wanted to do was play with touch screens, we could have saved $2,500 and just taken her to the Wawa next to our apartment.


Twenty minutes later, at least I got a good photo op out of it.


Lauryn absolutely loved Turtle Talk with Crush! Her goal in life is to get picked for every participtory experience in every theme park, circus, magic act, etc., in the U.S. Fortuitously, Crush picked her to answer the first question.


Time to use those Soarin' Fastpasses! Kelly and Lauryn thought the ride was OK--I think it's one of Disney's best.


We experienced our first Disney cluster of the day at lunch, but at least the food was worth wading through the crowded, unorganized cafeteria at The Land. Kelly got a turkey sandwich on focaccia, some chocolate thing for Lauryn and a personal-sized key lime pie...


...while I went for the Thai noodles with chicken and Butterfinger cheesecake. Yes... Butterfinger cheesecake!


Up next was Journey Into Imagination... with Figment!


Hmm... they look like telephones... but somehow they remind me of a dragon.


In the intro for this segment, I said we had a relatively meltdown-free day... but that doesn't mean there weren't tantrums. This one was the worst: After getting off the ride, Lauryn planted herself in front of the photo pickup counter for one of the digital games in Image Works and insisted that she was going to "do this game first." I tried several times explaining to her that it wasn't a game, but a place where they tried to sell you something. She was having absolutely none of it. Then someone bumped into me, and I bumped into her and knocked her over... and that was all it took. I was persona non grata for the rest of the day, and following a 15-minute wailing jag in the middle of Image Works, we let her run around in here to settle down.


At the orchestra game, she kept bumping my Figment with hers so mine would blow up and reappear. I'm not sure she realized it had anything to do with music.


Laruyn loves hands-on activities, so as much as I dislike Innoventions, it seemed like the perfect place for her. We started by dressing Velcro frogs...


...and then it was off to the T. Rowe Price Great Piggy Bank Adventure!


This attraction teaches kids the correct way to spend money in the U.S. First, for no particular reason, they're given a piggy bank full of money...


...then they're encouraged to put it all in a giant slot machine...


...then when it's all gone, they go out and buy a car they can't afford and wait for the government to bail them out. See how easy it is?


"The power of Christ compels you!"


Lauryn also got "picked" to play this game... mostly because everyone gets "picked" to play, and there was no one else around at the moment. The object is to prepare a storm emergency kit by selecting objects that would be necessary in an emergency.


This bottle doubles as both water and blood!


Of course, no Innventions photo series is complete without Raytheon's Sum of All Thrills.


Kuka arm alert!


Much better than those dumb choppers everyone's been riding all these years.


Lauryn enjoyed attempting to destroy a television in this attraction. Several weeks later, she actually managed to destroy our TV set by pouring a bottle of Windex on it. I was not amused.


OMG! OMG! Monorail! OMG!


We were rushing to get through Future World because we wanted to park hop over to Disney's MGM/Pixar/Hollywood Studios to catch the last "Beauty and the Beast" show of the evening. Afterward, we ventured into the "Chronicles of Narnia" attraction. It was one of the best "WTF?" moments of the trip. We stood in line for a half hour, watched a pre-show about special effects and then were taken inside. Basically, they showed us a composite trailer for the "Narnia" movies in a heavily themed, crowded-beyond-belief room, then opened a door back into the park and said, "Have a nice day!" Not exactly much of an "attraction."


After Narnia, we had our worst meal of the vacation, dry, bland, pre-cooked cheeseburgers from a stand near "Fantasmic!"... because we wanted to see "Fantasmic!" and it was the only showing the week we were there. Talk about your ultimate Disney cluster! We lined up 45 minutes before showtime for the second show ("lined" is a relative term, as it was more of a mosh pit free-for-all) and still barely got in. I'm really, really surprised no one got trampled.


Back at the hotel, we got to see what Simba had been up to all day (courtesy of the maid, who apparently found him still lying in Lauryn's bed that afternoon). His favorite channel is the Disney Channel. Who knew?


Next up: Our final full day at Disney.

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I know what you mean about the Narnia attraction...basically a glorified trailer in a themed room. We were a bit mad after we waited a half hour for that! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this TR!

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I know what you mean about the Narnia attraction...basically a glorified trailer in a themed room. We were a bit mad after we waited a half hour for that! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this TR!



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