Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Part 1 can be found HERE.
We hop off and hold on to the boys for dear life…since we missed the previous tram, we're with about 4 airplane loads of people. While many of the others try to get their bearings on where to go next, the experts make a beeline for the escalator down (about 30 of us), and we move as a pack in unison. At the last minute, we do see room in an elevator heading down, so we hop on, head down, and see that the line at the Magical Express is pretty much non-existent. Bathroom break, and we're in line, and they're letting our line go ou - wait…nope…we just missed it.
Normally, I'd be panicking because I'm superstitious and think that doomsday will ensue if we miss the transportation. Today? Hell yes I'm panicking because we have 2:30 ressies in Epcot!
Not to worry, though, because 3 minutes later, up rolls the next bus for us.
The bus fills up really quickly and is about to head out. Good…but we have one more issue (or, rather, 4) to deal with. We filled up quickly because there were also people heading to Pop, to Caribbean Beach, to Coronado Springs, and to Animal Kingdom-Jambo on the bus. Guess how many of those resorts we stopped at BEFORE we were to arrive at Kidani? Yeah, yeah...I know...someone has to be last. It's going to be close as to whether we make it to the Coral Reef on time or not. We notice that there is only one other family on the bus from Jambo to Kidani, so the line at check-in shouldn't be bad. Sure enough, we walk up and walk in, pausing momentarily to take in the lobby...
...and, before we know it (and after paying for the dining plan), we have our unit: #7676. Now, having researched the heck out of lodging, I knew that the unit wasn't going to be too close to the lobby.
We start out...
1/475th of the journey to our room
We see the family with us on the bus and wave, joking about needing oxygen. Then we find the unit, run in, pause for a moment to hit the bathroom, dump the carry-ons, open up the curtains for a brief moment to see our view (ZEBRA!!!), and realize that we're actually pretty close to the lobby! I suggest to Sheri that we just take this route:
Sheri slaps me, and we start making our way back to the lobby (the longer way). I feel like I could probably not run at all this trip and still end up with just as much endurance training. We eventually make it to the lobby and head out to the bus stops. Making the 2:30 Coral Reef ADR is going to be REALLLLY close. Here comes the big test – how are the buses at Kidani?
While we are waiting, we snap a queue pic:
The streak continues!!! Within 2 minutes, we have an Epcot bus pulling up. We're one of only 2 families on the bus at Kidani, and we pick up another 3-4 families at Jambo. We're on our way, and I'm willing the bus to go just a little faster. As we go up World Drive and take the ramp to Epcot, I tell Sheri a bit about the Half-marathon route and look for what I've heard is one of the toughest parts…the upward-sloping circular ramp from South World Drive to East Epcot Center Drive. We arrive and are pleasantly surprised that we are dropped off at the closest bus stop to the exit. Everyone's awake and ready to go, so we fly off the bus, make our way through the bag check, and prepare ourselves mentally for a new chapter in our Disney Freak-dom lives…becoming Annual Passholders.
We find a ticket kiosk with no line and immediately start the process. As the subtotal is displayed, Sheri thinks that it's a little expensive. I tried ignoring her because that amount didn't even have the boys' 7-day hoppers included. I nearly needed the AED for Sheri when that got added in. We always see everything in one lump sum as we almost always go through AAA. This time, however, we pay for each one separately, and the sticker shock hit Sheri rather hard. As we are handed the passes, we both laugh at the character selection. I get Donald (my favorite character) and Sheri (the purist) gets Mickey. We decided to give Pluto to Eric (it fits well), and Aaron was left with the perfect character – Goofy. Throughout the trip, every time I handed out the passes, I'd just call out the person by character (which, of course, drew some interesting stares at the turnstiles). Tickets in hand and retirement savings wiped out, we make our way to the aforementioned turnstiles (no lines!!!!!), and, before we know it, we are finger-scanned and officially IN THE PARKS!!!! It's around 2:10, and WE'RE HERE!!!!!!! WE'RE HERE!!!! WE'RE HERE WE'RE HERE WE'REHEREWE'REHEREWE'REHERE!!!!!!!WE'REHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The background music through the gravestones and under SSE just puts me at ease…
…and we're going to make it to the Coral Reef on time, too (the next surprise for the boys).
We head under the golf ball, through the Innoventions West breezeway, note the wait time for Soarin, and turn right. No time to enter a screaming contest with the MINE! Birds (another tradition of mine, thanks in part to a friend who also does it). We blow by the Seas sign and enter the Coral Reef to check in. Current time: 2:20.
After a bathroom run for everyone, our pager goes off, and we find ourselves being escorted to our tabl…wait...we're going up front by the windows…must be a short cut to our actual tabl…WHOAH…he's stopping by a clean table next to a window.
I nearly kiss the CM seating us. I don't think he would have liked it too much.
We sit down and just stare for a moment…mouths gaping. Our server breaks the worship event and asks us for a drink order. I don't care how "fru-fru"ey it is, a pina colada sounds like the perfect drink, and I order one without hesitation. The boys order lemonade, and Sheri foregoes the guaranteed buzz (she hadn't eaten much yet today…besides, she's a lightweight with it comes to alcohol) and orders a Diet Coke. I take a moment as we look over the menu and tell Sheri that you can't beat the start to this vacation! I'm making an effort this trip to start relaxing early…usually it takes me 4-5 days to start letting go and enjoying everything, and, so far, it's perfect – absolutely perfect.
The boys both take a sip of their lemonade and cringe. Eric (the more vocal one when things aren't EXACTLY the way he wants them) tells Sheri that something's wrong with the lemonade. Aaron agrees, and Sheri takes a sip.
I should have had the camera ready for Sheri's face when she took a sip!
Of course, they wanted me to take a taste for my opinion. Yep…there's something other than lemons in it. About 30 seconds later, the server, anticipating the boys' reactions, asks how the lemonade is. She forgot to mention to us that it was pomegranate lemonade and that, often, kids are turned off by the taste. She graciously offers to get a different drink for them as she takes our order. I've heard rave reviews about the food here, so I do what every food-lover does at a seafood specialty restaurant – I order the New York Strip (per the rave reviews I've heard about it). Sheri and (gasp!) Aaron both order the mahi mahi, and Eric goes with the comfort food for the young – chicken blobs. Aaron and Eric throw us both a curve ball, though, when they request lobster soup for their appetizer. And, yes, they both ate it. Aaron ate all of his, and Eric had about 4 slurps, which is average for him. Sheri and I then waged a spoon war for the rest of Eric's soup. About this time, Brian (the friend who rented the points to us) sends a text and asks if we made it yet.
As we waited for the entrees to arrive, we just marveled at where we were. We had people from other tables asking to come up to take pics, and we didn't mind at all (we'd be doing the same thing were we in their shoes).
The colada was gone in no time, and I seriously considered another one, but I was good and switched to a Diet Coke. As we waited, the boys played with these plastic dolphins that came with their drinks:
The food arrived in no time flat, and…
…HOLY COW!!!! The quality of the food was so far above what we experienced back in 2001 that we didn't think it was the same restaurant. I had a bite of Sheri's fish, and it was simply perfect. Aaron devoured everything he had and tried conniving Eric to give him a chicken blob.
After the main course, we had to face the next dilemma…dessert. The boys had to choose between a fruit bowl and a make-your-own sundae.
Yeah, it took them all of 0.45 seconds to make up their minds.
I went for the butterscotch crème brulee, and Sheri goes for the chocolate wave. I was guessing that AJ Wolfe of the Disney Food Blog is always looking for pics, so we grabbed some.
The dessert was good…not the best I've ever had, but still really good.
This was a one heck of a good way to start out the trip...a nearly perfect meal. We were all enjoying everything…the food, the drink…the fish…the reactions of people getting seated and seeing the view for the first time...
Though we wanted to stay for another hour at the table, we wrap things up and head out so that others could enjoy the experience. One last pic, though, before we pay and head out: