Originally the plan was to use Tuesday for Magic Kingdom and perhaps Epcot, depending on how much we had seen. Since this is the last day of MVMCP, we know that we want to be out of MK by around 4. I also had talked with DaisyDebbie prior to flying out, and she mentioned that today (Tuesday) had Epcot on the plans and tomorrow (Wednesday for you slower folks) was set up for wherever they wanted to go.
With all the possible scenarios, we decide one major item...NO WAKE-UP CALL. Too bad Aaron didn't get the message, because he was up and bouncing around by 7:10. As we head out to the MK bus, it's time to do the remarkably accurate timing check with the bus.
There's a bus waitingforus!!!!YEEHAW...Wait...it looks likethe rest of All Star Movies is also going to MK. So what the heck does this mean for our timing check?! I look at Sheri, and she looks at me. We both look at Aaron, and Aaron looks at us with this puzzled look that wondered why we are not getting on the bus.
Hmmm....we could fight the crowds at MK opening, or we could perhaps (looks over to the near-empty queue for the Epcot bus)...go to Epcot?
SUUUURRREEE...awesome idea, Mush. Man, I feel like a genius at coming up with this. We head over to the Epcot line...
...and watch 4 more MK busses come. We talked with a couple of Cubs fans and discussed some of the recent moves they made (all agree the pickup of Juan Pierre was definitely good). Sheri can tell that I'm already thinking about the end of the vacation (I have a knack for that). Finally the Epcot bus arrives (the wait was only about 13 minutes...not too bad), and we're off to the big golf ball place.
We go through the bag check and the turnstiles and make our way past Spaceship Earth. The opening ceremony was going on, but we were too far back to really see anything. So we follow the throngs toward "The Land" but stop when we encounter one of the Country Bears characters (tall one with orange hat). As he enters a door, I remember reading about a new character greeting place in Epcot. I tell Sheri that we're detouring, and we open the door.
We're the only ones in there! (I use that one a lot, don't I?).
First in line is Mickey! Since Aaron already had his autograph, we send him up without the book, and he is more interactive.
Too bad the Photopass pics are gone…there were some great ones in there! Pluto was next in line, and one of the photopass pics was there one of the best ones taken. That was one of the ones we bought. Aaron was kind of eeehhhh with Minnie as well as with Chip and Dale. And then...
We meet again.
Okay...before we talk, do your thing with the kid...
Needless to say, Donald was wound up.
Okay, kid...get away. Don and I are going to have a heart-to-heart talk here.
I walk up to him and tell him that I was here 3 years ago and NEVER saw him. I then tell him he's always been my favorite because we have a lot in common.
I look gazingly into his eyes, and we start to embrace...
...when I realize my son is watching me with this look of sheer terror on his face (okay, he was laughing, but sheer terror fits better with the story line).
Now, my life is complete.
(Mush's note…after re-working this section just a bit, I realized that this was probably the moment where I finally "got it" regarding the magic of this place. I'm going to add a new post in the blog immediately after this is posted that might help those don't "get it" yet).
He also sees Pinocchio and Goofy (again) as well as a couple of the Country Bears. The lines were still non-existent, and Mickey headed outside to see if they closed the park without his knowledge. When he came back, he and Aaron played around for another minute or two. I had to follow one of the Country Bears through the queue to get the stroller and had some fun with him (I was behind him mocking his moves, and he kept turning around trying to catch me).
We head outside and continue to "The Land". As we enter, we're a bit hungry (the original plan was to eat at the Main Street Bakery in MK), so we look around, and the food court place was open downstairs. We look at the "Living With the Land" queue (it's a boat ride, so Aaron would like it) and we walk on. I love the tomato tree, and, all-in-all, we like the ride more than we anticipated.
We look at the line for Soarin, knowing that Aaron's about an inch and a half too short and are grateful because the line is over an hour according to the posted time. So we head over to the Living Seas pavilion. Turtle Talk was cute. I guess I didn't know what to expect, but there wasn't as much there as I had expected.
We decide to trot on over on the monorail to MK to see what's going on there. Aaron is excited to ride, and we get on in just a couple of minutes. While riding, Sheri calls her Mom to see how Eric (other son...who will be royally pissed when he reads this and finds out he got left behind) is doing. Her Dad answers, and that's not a good thing because he never misses work. Both her Mom and Dad have the flu (her Mom punched her Dad for telling Sheri that...now I know where Sheri gets it) but that Eric's doing fine.
We get to Magic Kingdom and make our way in. Despite the throngs of folks heading here this morning, the crowds seem to be dispersed well. We walk up Main Street, and I come to the conclusion that the Magic Kingdom is my favorite park...it just took me longer than most to realize it. We are planning to eat at Pecos Bills but have some time so we head over to Adventureland and ride the Tiki Birds and Pirates again. On the way to POC, Aaron actually starts singing "Yo ho Yo ho Pirates". We get on the ride in less than five minutes and get off the ride about 45 minutes later.
No...that's not a typo. The ride broke down while we were on there, and we were stuck just after the cannon blasts...near the guy in the well and the wife auction. The lights actually came on, and we moved backwards for a minute or two. Aaron thought it was pretty cool, while I felt certain I'd have nightmares about redheads.
After the ride, Aaron wanted to play swords:
We head over to Frontierland and Pecos Bills. On our way, Sheri makes a comment about all the birds. About 10 seconds after she says this, we watch one of the gulls start swooping down really close to the crowd. This poor woman had just gotten a hot dog and had just unwrapped it.
The bird went for the hot dog. The birds wings are flapping right in front of her face and she lets out this blood-curdling scream, slapping at the bird and all-in-all freaking out. The bird ends up with about 1/3 of the bun. I'm right in the middle of trying to decide whether to laugh or make sure the woman was okay when the damn thing makes a beeline for us.
HIT THE DECK!!!! I scream.
All of us are ducking, except for Aaron, who I think was actually trying to catch it, as the bird screams over our heads. We get up from our crouch and exchange looks of combined humor and and look around veeeerrrryyyy carefully before we start walking again. We pass the assaulted woman, and she looks okay. Everyone around is smiling, so she must have taken it okay (despite the fact that she was still shaking as we passed by).
We get to Pecos Bills and have a great meal. Aaron's getting tired right about the time we start heading for the exit. BUT first we need to make a pit stop at the Emporium to see Judy (our neighbor, Stacy's, Mom -- she's got it going on ). We enter and split up until we find her. She doesn't see us yet as she's waiting on someone. Another register opens, and a CM tells us that we can go there. I quietly tell them that we know Judy and want to surprise her. He smiles and yells at Judy to "HURRY UP...THERE ARE PEOPLE WAITING!"
Judy has this puzzled look...especially when I follow with "Yeah, we haven't got all day, ya know...geez."
Then she sees us and gets this huge smile! We talk for about 10 minutes, and we're doing everything we can to keep the fact that her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are flying down the next day to surprise her (it worked, btw...she couldn't believe it when she saw them).
We head out and get on the bus for Movies. We all were tired and crashed fairly quickly (FINALLY). I set my cell phone alarm for 5:00 pm so we can get to the Poly for dinner at O'Hana, and I drift off for a long warm-and-kind-of-near-winter-I-guess nap.
I get up, walk to my cell phone and turn off the alarm. Man, I feel refreshed! Aaron's still out, and Sheri is starting to stir a little. About a minute later, my cell phone rings. I check to see who it is, and it says "Restricted".
Hmmm...Must be DaisyDebbie. I answer it and wasn't expecting the New Yawk accent (I forgot where she hailed from before moving). We talk for a couple of minutes and discover that they'll be at Epcot for Illuminations, and, HEY, we were thinking of going there too! We'll try to meet up. I tell her our plans and that I'd give her a call when we got there.
We say our goodbyes, and I hang up and look at the clock. 4:35.
Wait...didn't I set the alarm for 5?
I check the alarm...yup...set to go off at 5.
I stare into space for a minute before it hits me. CRAP, I hung up on her when she called the first time!!!! Hell of a first impression ya made there, @#$)^$$#@!#@$ moron!!!! I tell Sheri what I did, and she agrees fully with my conclusion.
Everyone's awake now, so we decide to start making our way over to the Poly to see if we can get seated early. We hop on the first bus we see (MGM...pulled up as we walked out) and then hop off to transfer to the bus that goes to the Contemp/Poly/Grand Floridian. As we hop off the bus and look around, we find that we are very close to the bus that will go there.
We were standing right by it...
...the bus we just got off was the one we wanted. Sooooooooo we get back on, and the bus driver gets a good laugh from us. He sardines us to get everyone on the bus, and we head over to the Contemporary. We decide to get off the bus and look around a little more, and I'm really glad we did! I've only seen the main concourse level of the contemporary from the Monorail and from just walking around. Coming in from the bottom level of the Contemporary is an entirely new view. It looked really nice.
We walk around a bit and see Cindy's glass slipper and get in line for the monorail. There are 4 families ahead of us in line when it arrives. The doors open, and all the families go right in.
None of them went to the front.
Okay...somebody must already be in the front, but we make our way up there to see...just in case.
I ask the CMs there if the front was open..."go on in" they said. :-D This is kewl to the nth degree!
I am enjoying this probably more than Aaron is, but all three of us think it's pretty neat. I think it feels like you're going faster when looking down the beam than when in the back. Sheri mentions that the driver has a striking resemblance to Bobby Flay…funny thing is that he does look like him!
We get out at the Poly and head to O'Hana to eat. We're about 35 minutes ahead of our seating time, but we're seated within about five minutes. I've got my Hawaiian shirt on and am getting into the mood by humming some Jimmy Buffett:
Ia oro te natura
E mea arofa teie ao nei
(from One Particular Harbor)
I decided even before we left Illinois that I was going to have a nice drink at O'Hana. Sheri grabs a drink (one of the best Margaritas she has ever had), and I go for the lapu lapu. I figured if we got too drunk, Aaron should know that transportation system well enough by now to find his own way back to the hotel. The lapu lapu was good (even at $10.99, it was awesome), though Aaron thought the pineapple looked weird with a straw coming out of it. Sheri wasn't too keen on the beef (too rare...she likes her beef dead, buried, incinerated, and cooked again), but she really liked the sausage. I loved the entire meal. Aaron spilled his drink (oh well).
We look around the Poly some more, and I start thinking about whether we can afford to stay here for our ten year anniversary. Hey, maybe I can convince Sheri to use the money we would have spent on the cruise to stay here instead. I'm still trying to find a way to introduce this idea to her without instant castration.
We hop on the monorail and take the circuit around back to the TTC. At the Contemp, a family joins us, and I'm torn between paying attention to the husband who might just be a relative of mine (we were joking that we had almost the same shirt on...he actually also had the shirt I was wearing in his wardrobe) or his supermodel wife whose shirt showed more than a little cleavage. It simply didn't matter how much you tried not to look….a eunuch would have even been staring. We get off at the TTC, and I've got a grin on my face that wouldn't go away. Sheri just stares at me...waiting for the comment...fist ready.
We just miss the Epcot monorail, and I told her it would probably be about 15 minutes before we saw another. Less than a minute later, in comes another monorail.
It's Sheri's turn to smile. I ignore her and give Debbie a call on the cell to see where they were going to be. They were currently in Mexico but heading to Japan. Apparently RoutemanDan showed them a good spot to view Illuminations...the second floor of the Mitsukoshi building. We get to Epcot (Sheri mentions that, according to me, we would still be waiting for the monorail at the TTC....) and start making our way in. We have time before we are supposed to meet up everyone, so we look at the wait times. We consider letting Aaron experience Honey I Shrunk the Audience (he's handled all the other rides with no problem), but it had already closed.
On to the World Showcase. We decided to head left this time and look around in Mexico and ride another boat ride for Aaron. El Rio was a nice calm ride.
Sheri falls in love with the San Angel Inn, and I think I have her convinced that we need to do a day or two alone in Epcot to really appreciate it (in a year and a half).
We start making our way to Japan to meet up with Debbie, and I'm starting to get a bit nervous. I've only met one other person from my online life, and we are moderators together for a large timesharing group, so I knew that person fairly well prior to meeting up with him. Debbie and her kids...I had only been on the Lodge since April, and I know her only through posts and a couple of pictures. With the other guy, we'd swap e-mails sometimes 5-6 times a day when things were crazy. I've already hung up on her once, and just had this weird feeling that it would be a weird meeting.
We sneak over to Germany to try to find a train set that Aaron could see. We then hit the bathroom near Italy. While there, I notice that I missed a call. It was Debbie saying that they decided to watch the show from a different place...between Italy and the Candlelight Processional stage. Hell, that's only a couple hundred feet away from where I'm standing! Sheri emerges, and I tell her they're somewhere (pointing) over there. DD said she was wearing a red jacket and had both her kids with her. Okay, so we walk where we are supposed to be heading, and I start scanning. As we get closer, I try to think back to pictures of Debbie and Lexie...all I can think about is the picture of the "turtle" behind Lexie's head near their pool and get to snickering. Sheri asks what's up, and I fail miserably trying to explain.
There they are! (I think).
Whew...it was them. We introduce ourselves and Aaron immediately makes himself at home. While introducing her and Sheri to each other, I quip that everything I've ever said about Sheri online was good (wink, wink...nudge, nudge). I still have just my Hawaiian shirt on, while Debbie has 3 layers on (the wuss). She jokes about me making her feel cold, so I throw on my jacket.
Debbie gets another phone call (loved the ringtone) and tells me that Badelves are still over in Future World but heading our way. I go through the memory archives and for the life of me cannot remember who this badelves is, aside from how they came up with the username.
While we're talking, I joke about trying to get Sheri to join the Lodge. Debbie does her best to encourage her by mentioning her obsession with Matthew McConaughey, and Sheri perks up immediately.
Lexie and Austin spot Mare, Mark, and Renee from about 400 yards and let us know they're here. They arrive dressed in the same attire...they look so cute! Aaron sees Renee and immediately takes a liking to her (someone around his height). Debbie does the intros for us, and Mare comments on the weight loss (I had lost around 50 pounds before this trip).
I have come to the conclusion that I need to do more research before meeting y'all.
The lodgesters pose for pics:
Oh...all right!!! Props need to go to the night-setting on our camera. Regardless, it looks like Debbie is getting into the Lodge spirit and sporting antlers (that, or they are devil horns :D)
(note: I did not doctor the "antlers"...that's how it actually turned out!!).
Anyways, Here's a much better pic (courtesy of DD) of Mare and Debbie, and a stupid picture of me with a crooked-ass grin (due to being surrounded by two lovely lodge ladies) and a wearing a coat over a Hawaiian shirt:
Also using Debbie's version...the whole crew
Okay...stupid smiles aside, things seem to be going well. Sheri mentions to the badelves clan that her scarf is the exact same pattern as their shirts. Aaron is getting a bit antsy while we talk with each other, so I pick him up, and he proceeds to start picking leaves off the tree we're standing next to.
Illuminations starts, and the Mush clan is wowed immediately (first time ever seeing it). When the fireworks stopped and the images were displayed on the globe, Aaron gets bored and starts playing with Lexie's water bottle...and knocks it into the water. I'm fully expecting a phone call from Disney with a DNA report and a bill for retrieval of the bottle.
Anyway, the lasers and the lights start hitting the buildings. About 45 seconds later I finally get it..."illuminations"...illuminating the nations. I knew those 24 years in school would eventually pay off . Sheri just mutters a "Duh" my way.
The fireworks start back up again when BOOOM!!! A nozzle about 40 feet to left of us lets out a shower of sparks and sends a shell over the lagoon. We all jumped out of our shoes on that one. We have the finale barrage of fireworks...or so we thought. I read on the disboards before I removed myself to lurker status over there that they added a special Christmas finale, and it starts up. Renee mentions that this isn't the usual Illuminations, and Debbie leans over to me and says "you think she's seen this a few times?" That got me cracking up. More fireworks off the barges, and the cannon next to us goes off again, causing us all to wish we had extra thongs to change into. Then comes the actual finale - red and green fireworks going off at a rate that would have made Washington DC envious. For only about the fourth time in my life, I was speechless.
We all talk with each other some more, and, somehow we get to talking about characters. Mark starts telling a story about Chip and Dale, and I fire back with "the Chippendales?!"
Debbie suddenly becomes very interested in the conversation at that word.
Yes, folks, Mush the pervert has arrived! With Aaron, Renee, Austin, and Lexie nearby however, I do my best to keep the volume and the content in check.
We make our way around the World Showcase and stop at the International gateway (Debbie was parked at one of the Epcot resorts). Mare and Mark tease her about her unexpected backlot tour of Disney World with her vehicle from a previous night. We say our goodbyes with the hopes that we would meet up tomorrow at Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours. The Badelves and the Mushes continue on to Future World, and Renee and Aaron really start getting along well. He's in the stroller, but Renee starts holding his hand and then gives him a little kiss. My son must have the gift...he has a harem at daycare, and he gets a girfriend here at Epcot! Notice that I STILL haven't gotten a kiss from ANYONE (and I'm not even sure I've gotten a kiss from the wifey, either, on this trip)! As we get past Spaceship Earth near the Legacy tombstones, we let Aaron out for a bit, and he promptly goes running. Never fear - Renee chases him down for us. We consider renting her for the rest of our vacation.
We part ways with Mark, Mare, and Renee (again with the hopes of seeing them at MK Wednesday night) and head on to the bus. We had stayed in Epcot nearly 45 minutes after it had "closed", so the bus stop isn't too busy. On the bus ride back to the hotel, Aaron was talking about a mile a minute (yeah, he'll go to bed without a fight tonight).
Once we get him calmed down, he actually does crash fast. Sheri and I both agree that it was great night. The parks take on an entirely new feel when you're there with friends, and we made several friends tonight. And to think I was worried about meeting them! I'm really hoping that Aaron will last long enough to meet up with all of them again at MK for our last night at WDW (more foreshadowing for those who didn't catch it).