Part 2 is located HERE
Our ressies for Jiko were for 7, but we left a little early to make sure we made it and to look around AKL a little bit. We hopped on the bus to MGM (it was waiting when we got to the stop). At MGM we hopped off the bus and went down 2 or 3 stops to the AKL station. There were only about 8-10 folks on the bus, so we sat towards the front.
I'm not sure we ever left MGM because what happened next can best be described as crossing over into the Twilight Zone.
The bus driver says she has to stop at Blizzard Beach. We get there, and she can't figure out which stop is for AKL. We help her out by pointing to the stall she needs to be at. While waiting, she tells us that she's a part-timer and only drives the bus once or twice a week.
We pull out and start making our way out of BB. We get to Buena Vista Drive and turn right. I immediately look at Sheri and whispered that we should have taken a left at that light. Though this is only the third time I've ever been to BB (the first times being earlier today), I knew AK and AKL were left (I even saw the sign from BB to reinforce this). Sheri kind of shrugs as her sense of direction is – ummmm – let's just say I am the navigator in the family. I decide not to say anything and let the driver make the decisions…until we got to the interchange at World Drive. When the driver throws up her hands in exasperation because she can't find a sign for AKL, I quietly mention to her that we turned the wrong direction out of BB. She says that's really weird because the sign there told her to turn right. I fought my impulses and just let her decide what to do. She hops on the P.A. and says we gotta turn around and whips the bus into the Swan's entrance.
At least it was an animal.
She does a U-ey and almost tips the bus over on the turn. She gets back to the light for Buena Vista and looks at me to make sure we're going the right direction.
Ever hear of TomTom? Well, I'm MushMush, and I'll get you there for free without GPS!!!
I start sending vibes to her to turn right onto Osceola…otherwise we'll be heading into the All Star resorts. She just about cuts off a van and makes the right (whew). We almost go to AK instead of AKL, but she makes the right decision to stay left at the last minute. A round of applause from the bus erupts as we enter AKL, but she can't read the signs on the stalls to know which one to pull into for the trip back to MGM. Sheri and I point out the one that says "DS" on it, and she thanks us and proceeds to go right by it to the MK stall.
We got off the bus and almost kissed the ground, along with the rest of the folks on the bus. The people waiting for the bus just had this confused look…they're waiting to go to MK but the bus said MGM…meanwhile the folks waiting to go to MGM are filing out of the queue and heading over to the MK line. The folks behind us who got off the bus wished them luck and said that they'd say a prayer for their safety and eventual return.
Good thing we left early.
Let's recap our bus journeys so far today. Pop to MK to WL to FW to BB to AK. AK back to BB to Pop. Pop to MGM to BB to Swan lot to AKL. I should have signed up for the Disney Transportation Frequent Flyer program…I probably could have gotten a free stay after all those miles.
We enter AKL and behold the atrium second only to WL. Sheri breaks the seal yet again. While waiting, I go over to the DVC kiosk in the atrium and ask if they've started construction for the villas yet. They're clearing the trees now. Now, if this were Wyndham or any other timeshare company, she would have sank her teeth into my neck until I agreed to take a tour and endure a hard-sell presentation that would have ended with us talking to the manager about a once in a lifetime offer that is only good for today and him telling us how stupid we'd be if we let this once in a lifetime opportunity slip through our hands and then getting pissed about us wasting his time if we say no. This is DVC, however, and she did not push at all about trying to get signed up. I almost wanted to take the tour for that alone.
Sheri comes back and we try to figure out where the Hell Jiko is in this place. We saw Boma, and I remember reading somewhere that Jiko isn't too far from Boma. We take the elevator down to the bottom floor and find it! We're still about 20 minutes early, so we get the buzzer and head to the bar. I sling the camera over my chair, and we start perusing the wine novel (too big to be a list). The bartender excuses herself to run a few drinks out. About a minute later, we get buzzed, and we get seated with a great view of the outside. Well, Sheri got a great view as my back was towards the window. The things you do for love.
Now, I already talked to Tricia about this as she inquired about it, but I figured I'd include it in here for others with similar questions about Jiko with kids. We saw a few children there…I'd say about 10% of the tables had kids there…most of those that were there were very well-behaved. There was one table where the kid (guessing around 3-4) was melting down, and the entrée hadn't even arrived yet. Sheri and I have differing opinions on this (big surprise there). Sheri thinks the kids should be older. I think that a younger kid could do it ONLY IF they don't get bored easily and can entertain themselves quietly for a good hour and a half. No, our kids wouldn't make it there.
We had already paid for the meal with the dining plan, so we were going to splurge and get a bottle of wine. We went with a middle-of-the-road priced white (Gewurtz). Middle of the road was still $46. As the wine order was being filled, the bartender makes a stop at our table with a little souvenir. Guess who forgot the camera this time? Let me have it, Brian…I deserve it. For the apps, we did what I think is the norm: the taste of Africa and the Kalamata olive flatbread. I'm not an olive fan at all, but the flatbread was very good. Then the main course…Brisully lauded the sturgeon yesterday and talked Sheri into getting it. I took RoutemanDan's advice on here and got the lamb.
Let's just say that Sheri's journal entry for the sturgeon included the words "ooh la la." I think she liked it. It was served with "vegetables of the moment." That became our catchphrase for the rest of the meal. Everything became "of the moment." We laughed until we saw the pic of the sturgeon entrée in Brisully's photo gallery…different moment – different vegetables (only a day or two difference between when we ate).
Dan didn't lead me astray with the lamb, either! It fell off the bone and had a perfect flavor to it. It had been a good ten years since I had it, and it blew away any way I've had it prepared before. Wifey called it "yucky pot roast," but you have to remember that this is a person that orders a filet mignon extra well done.
We still had a free beverage from the dining plan, so we both got coffee to go with dessert. We fought about who got to order the pistachio crème brulee. Sheri got the view for the meal, so I got the dessert. Sheri got the flourless chocolate cake with lavender and vanilla bean ice cream. It actually had a lavender taste to it! My dessert was better though. Plus, she didn't see the girls in the little black dresses behind her, so the view wasn't too terribly bad from my vantage point either.
We paid the balance and decided to walk around a little bit. It was dusk at AKL but you could still see the animals in the savannah areas surrounding the resort. We saw a few giraffes, zebras, etc before we started to make our way back towards the entrance. After the world bus tour earlier today (Too much, Magic Bus), we both agreed that a cab was the way to go. As we walked out, we could tell that it had finally rained a little bit. Those rain dances I was doing before hopping in bed seemed to have finally helped. We didn't know that it poured, however. Good…they needed it.
On the way back to Pop, I see if Sheri's interested in hitting Epcot for the EMH. She was starting to get a little tired and suggested that I head out there myself for a while. She could just relax in the room.
Now, before anyone says anything…especially those who have read our trip report from December of '05…let's clear up a few things:
- I've gotten more sleep in the past 4 days than I usually get in a week. Sheri has gotten around the same amount of sleep (just a lot less stress, so it's better sleep). I'm wired and have a ton of extra energy.
- Sheri knows that I wanted to do a couple things that she didn't have much interest in at Epcot, namely the burn-off and the orange Mission: Space. Sheri had a little interest in doing Test Track at night, but not a lot.
- For those of you thinking…ummm…the kids are away and you have the room to yourselves...no comment.
- When your spouse tells you to go solo to a theme park, like you're going to say no?
- I'm not meeting any Lovely Lodge Ladies this time like I did last time. I won't be tempted to taste the tanginess of the forbidden fruit (got in an alliteration frenzy there).
We get back to Pop in one piece and without a criminal record and head back towards the 50s area. We walked up to our room at exactly 8:58 pm. I walked back out to the balcony to hear the intro to Illuminations. I see the opening shot and determine that we're about 1 mile away as the crow flies from the World Showcase lagoon. Off to the left, Wishes has started. It's just slightly under 5 miles between here and Cindy's castle. Oh, and farther left are the lights of Fantasmic. All 3 going on at the same time, and we can see all 3 of them. We see the climax to Illuminations and to Wishes (but no climax for Fantasmic…ironic, isn't it?) and head back into the room.
Sans Sheri (more alliteration), I head back through the Pop. It's weirder this time than it was last time. We've spent the past 5 days together without being separated for longer than a few minutes. I was kind of getting used to her. I walk through to the bus stop and find most of the folks out there hoochied up for Pleasure Island. There are about 5 of us waiting for the Epcot bus. It arrives packed with folks coming back from the park. Good sign.
We fly to Epcot and see the queue line veeerrrrrrry deep. Good sign. I almost get trampled by folks heading to the bus stop. Good sign. I see the sign pointing to where to enter. Bad sign. Bad because it took me to where the monorail exit was, through the ticket kiosks and right back to where I was 2 minutes ago, only now I'm in a sea of monorail patrons.
I glide in and immediately make my way towards the lagoon. I've heard of the burn-off and wanted to see what it was like. I didn't know when it was…only that your best chance to see it is during EMH. From what I've gathered, a LOT of folks don't know about this…just keep reading if you don't know, and you'll find out. It was just after 10 pm when I got there, and there were folks still stumbling out of the Showcase apparently after a failed attempt at drinking around the world. It's sprinkling a little, but it's really nice outside. The front had moved through, and it was probably in the low-70s to upper-60s. I imagined if Debbie were here, she'd be in a parka.
The pyro folks start screaming across the lagoon and drop people off to drive the barges back to reload for tomorrow's show. It was neat seeing the bridge up as they passed through. At about 10:20, I see that I'm now one of only 5 people next to the Pirate topiaries. A family walks up at around 10:22 asking what I was looking at. I told them that I thought they were going to release all the excess propane from the barge and light it…all at one time from all the nozzles (thus the name "burn-off"), and they immediately grabbed a spot right next to me to watch. About 10:25, the inferno barge becomes covered in little blue lights…my guess is those are ignitors/pilots. At exactly 10:30, we all nearly jump out of our skin as they make an announcement over the P.A. system of what was about to happen (a final salute to the evening…it's all controlled and safe…enjoy the fun all you pyromaniacs). They have a countdown from 5…
THAT was kewl! Instead of trying to give an interpretation of the big bang and the importance of fire, just blow the damn barge up, and I'll love it!!! You probably could have felt the heat from that thing over by the Coral Reef.
I make my way over towards Test Track and see a 20 minute wait, so I skip over to Mission Space and grab an orange card. I inquire about a single rider line, but they weren't running it tonight. No worries, I was in the prep room just a couple of minutes later. I've ridden this thing three times, and every time I'm the navigator. Damnit, I want to be the pilot someday!!! I'm stuck with 2 high schoolers who have ridden it 6 times in a row already and were in for the 7th. The folks going into the simulator next to me are getting visibly nervous about the motion sickness. The guy asks how rough it is, and I mentioned about paying attention to not turning your head or closing your eyes in case you start to feel the effects…and that, if you're not sure, you might want to try the green version first and then decide if ya want to do the orange one.
The guy bolted for the door, leaving the 3 ladies he was with behind.
We get in, and the other 2 start horsing around. I didn't really care because we were blasting off in no time. Oh yeah…love them Gs!!! Sheri definitely would not have forgiven me had I dragged her on this one. We get off after saving the space ship (alliteration), and I run over to the next simulator to see how the 3 women did. They LOVED it!
I then make my way over to Test Track and hop in the single rider line. They were filling up one of the staging rooms, and I was stopped before I could get in. About 1 minute later, the doors open up for another staging room, and the CM motions for me to go in there. The last group was still exiting, so I just kept on going right on through!!! I fill up a row, and we get in the car. Then the lights go yellow. Weather…hopefully the rain will keep away long enough for a few more cars to get through.
We got through! Okay, TT at night was neat, but not all I had dreamed it would be.
I decided that I'm ready to be back with wifey, so I stroll out the exit, pausing for a moment to watch the optics in the cement underneath the golf ball. I got back to Pop around 11:45, and Sheri was just turning off the TV when I opened the door. She wasn't expecting me back for another 45 minutes or so. I think I burned off enough energy to not be as annoying as I could be tomorrow, so it was a success for both of us.
Tomorrow is the last full day, and we're both ready to see the kids. We talk for a bit, both saying that slightly shorter trips might be best (shoot for 4-5 days rather than 6 days). We're still gonna have a heck of a good time tomorrow at MK and Epcot, but we're nearing the threshold of too much stuff. We ask for a wake-up call from Stitch for around 7:30 and drift off to sleep.