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Keane and PiC's December 2009 Florida Trip Report, Part 4

Cindy's Castle in it's Winter Lights. Taken outside of the Crystal Palace.

Who: Me (Keane). PiC (Partner In Crime). And a cast of thousands.
What: 2009 Winter Vacation.
Where: Florida. Kidani Village, Disney World; and Inn at the Beach, Venice Island.
When: Dec 2 through Dec 13.
Why: Because we *like* you. Em. Oh. You. Ess. Eee.

All disclaimers in Part 1 still applies...

Dec 8. A long day.

Got up. Looked out across the savanna, and saw... white. Heavy fog. It's white in Chicago too, with 3-5 inches of snow. I'll take the fog, thank you.

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This morning's going to be a Downtown Disney morning. Check my mail, Jack is going to Seaworld. Jack! Shame on you! ;-) Steve and Laura RSVP nicely, and we're on for a 1pm meet. Scheduling things by e-mail at WDW. I wonder what Walt would say? I mean, right after asking for a laptop...

Got to DD at 9:25, 5 minutes before the stores open. We walk around World of Disney, and they have a door open, mainly for the BBB. They have a rope drop at WoD, believe it or not. I just cannot get excited over getting to go into someplace to buy something.

Downtown Disney
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Pick up a couple of things, but am disappointed not to find any 2009 merchandise. Did they run out, or did they not even have any this year? I'm wondering if they short ordered this year, so as not to have tons of outdated material. We walk across to Basin, and look over all the really smelly stuff. I pick up a bar of Mickey soap for laughs...

Next is to Ghirardelli and get a free peppermint square and determine the number and types of chocolate to pick up for home and the office. From there, through Arribas Brothers, and eventually to Days of Christmas, the t-shirt store and Art of Disney. I don't think we bought anything, but that's not the point of Downtown Disney, is it? Oh, wait, it is. We're hungry, so we head off toward T-Rex, which I want to try just for laughs. I mean, we're here, and I've already had a Wetzel Dog...

On the way, we stop at the candy store. Baaaad mistake. Everything looks good. Restrain ourselves, pick up a couple of rice krispy treats for later. Cha-ching! Disney gets some of our money. I mean, it's already been 15 minutes since I last handed them my credit card. It was getting lonely in my wallet. We complete the rest of the journey to T-Rex without buying anything.

They're not open yet. They open at 11:00, and it's 10:45. So we wander into Pleasure Island, and check out Raglin Road. They open at 11:00 too. Let's see... T-Rex, Raglin Road. T-Rex, Raglin Road. T-Rex, Raglin Road. Raglin Road wins. Funny, that.

T-Rex, Downtown Disney
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I have the shepherd's pie, PiC has the beef stew. While waiting, they bring out some Irish soda bread, with Olive Oil and Honey on a plate [I have since been corrected by Blossom, that it's an olive oil and Guiness Stout reduction of some sort.] Whatever happened to butter? The food arrives, and I take a picture for Rodney. Very good, I'd eat there again. (They pipe in an Irish comic's routine into the men's room via the public address system. Nothing like laughing out loud in the bathroom. Good thing the target's big.) For the first 15 minutes of our meal, we are the only couple in the restaurant. Then a family comes in. They use the bathroom and leave, and there are again more waitstaff than patrons. At least the service was good... (By the time we leave, there are three other couples having lunch.)

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney
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Saunter back to Ghirardelli, which is a longer trip now that I have a full stomach, and buy our chocolate. They won't give me an AP discount, since the chocolate is already discounted. Wazzup wit' dat? Another thing I noticed, is that all the nutritional information is printed on a piece of paper at the bottom of the bag, so you may not even notice it's there until the chocolate is gone...I'm still deciding whether that's a bad thing...

We get back to the room at about 12:30pm, and we're expecting company at 1pm. We're on the balcony looking out, so I keep the balcony door open so I can hear someone knock. Steve shows up, has a pour of scotch, and stand around the balcony looking at the animals. His wife is poolside avoiding insane Disney people. I can deal with that. PiC has no choice. She even has to be in the group picture.

I want to make sure Laura and Lee didn't get lost, only to find they got lost. Since Kidani has no rooms on the Atrium, they found they had to go down to the second floor, cross over the lobby and go back up to the 5th floor. As I'm talking to Lee, there's a knock on the door. He's talking to me on the phone from the other side of the door. Ain't technology wonderful? I mean, a phone from California calling a phone from Illinois, on opposite sides of the same door in Florida. I wonder what Walt would say... I mean, after asking for one.

The five of us are on the balcony, and I'm briefly reminded of the scandal in Chicago a few years ago, where unqualified inspectors inspected rear porches of apartment buildings, only to have one collapse and kill a few people. Nah, couldn't happen here... Conversation ranges from Lee being a former CM to Steve's upcoming visit to Fort Wilderness. Laura doesn't like the view from her room, and likes the view of the Savanna from my room better. I tell her next time, just tell the CM at the front desk that you've only been off chemo for a few months... Worked for me. Lee and PiC commiserate being in the presence of Disneyphiles. Other than the where we're from stuff, the conversation is mostly Disney. Imagine that.

After proudly showing everyone my print in the bathroom, and the decorations around the TV, a couple hours of conversation, Steve has to leave. Soon after, Laura and Lee have to be at Epcot, and we part our ways. I have no car wax or other sponsored prizes, so I give away some prints, and PiC and I prepare for MVMCP.

A Mini-Meet
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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

We get everything together, I check to make sure I have the tickets, and I forget the bottle of water. Idiot. Oh well, it's not like they don't sell 'em in the park. For $2.25 a shot.

We get to Magic Kingdom, and the place is already pretty crowded. Uh-oh. I get up to the train station, and they have the Christmas tree up in town square, blocking the view of the castle. The garland is up now, too. Oh, well, take the panoramic anyway.

Magic Kingdom
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I have a date with a hot dog at Casey's, my third close encounter of the hot dog kind, and we head down main street. I can't *not* have the hot dog, it was the impetus that started the entire Varsity Meet in Atlanta. Pic grabs a table, and I get a couple of hot dog meals. Fries are hot, and the dog is pretty good. It might become standard MK faire, since food at the MK leaves a bit to be desired anyway. I have no problem with this dog over the last one. What I did have a problem with is the couple in front of me, who ordered three meals only to complain they ordered two, complained that the large drink was too large, and complained that the bill was too high when it wasn't. Why in the lines I'm always in? Why?

An interloper...
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After...uh... Dinner, we saunter into Adventureland.

I want to go on Jungle Cruise, and stand-by time is 15 minutes. Done deal! Except PiC hates Jungle Cruise. What? She hates Jungle Cruise? Maybe it's time to trade her in for a newer model. HAHAhhaahah.... Turns out it's more like 45 minutes, and it's dark when we finally get out, it's dark.

From there, we moved on to Pirates, and it was a walk-on. Arrrrrr. There's a Pirate at the end, who's doing a remarkable pose while a clueless woman can't get her act together with her camera. After a "For God's sake Lady, hurry the hell up" in Pirate, I take a quick picture. PiC declares she'd rather do Pirates three times before Jungle Cruise. Okay. So noted.

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We did Country Bear Jamboree, just so I can tape it on HD. I could have done a better job, and I'm afraid I'll have to see it again someday, just to get two versions I can cut together. Oh well, it's fun show. The first 20 times, anyway... PiC declares she'd rather see Country Bear Jamboree three times before seeing Jungle Cruise, and now I know she's lying. At least, I hope she's lying.

I wonder what she'd say if I dragged her into the Tiki Room again.

It's almost time for the Party to start, so we walk over to the Christmas store in Liberty Square. Wow, they don't have the 2009 Christmas coffee cup either. Thanks, Lisa! They close the doors, and only reopen two of them, and they check for wristbands. I'm paying for something, and the CM's bring out the 2009 MVMCP stuff and I tell PiC to get over there. She doesn't (and she didn't believe me that she should be standing over where they were going to bring the rack out) and the other guests descend on the rack like locusts. She get's a sweatshirt for herself, but after I get there, there's nothing left but 2XXL and children's stuff. I talk to a CM, and not only are they not going to bring any more MVMCP merchandise out, but that rack is the only merchandise they have left. For the year.

What we did buy, was an electroluminescent winking snowman. It's a very cool piece of technology. I still have to look it up to see how it works. I've since looked it up on the net, since PiC wants more for gifts, but they retail on the 'net for more than $30. We got them for $14.09. Less than 50% of the price, but without the box and a couple of stands for the device. Whattadeal! At Disney no less. With that odd price, I wonder if that was Disney's cost, and they were charging the wrong amount...

So we go over to Main Street, and they still have a rather wide selection of MVMCP wear, and I get my t-shirt and sweatshirt. They have a very cool fleece throw, with the castle in castle lights duds, as one of those "Buy $40 or more and get one for $14.95" things. I get one.

We decide to see the early parade, and go on over to Frontierland. We find a spot in the front by the rope, and wait the 30 minutes for the parade, just in front of Horseshoe. We're sitting, and I'm sure the people behind us were disappointed when we stood up. Oh well. Five minutes before the parade, I look behind us, and the crowd is about 6 rows deep. About normal for the first parade. That's why I usually wait for the second parade, but that's pretty crowded too. I figure out the logistics of where the monopod has to be in order to swivel around the camcorder, and the parade begins without any 5 or 10 minute announcement.

The parade looks different. I'll have to compare with the previous two I've been to. They don't turn off the lights, which is something I've complained about since I first saw the parade. It's very well lit, and I'm hoping this taping turns out well. The smell of gingerbread as the gingerbread cookies dance by is exceptional. We both agree, however, that the Toyland soldiers are our favorite.

Video of Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade can be found here.

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
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It's a zoo, so we don't even try to get to Main Street for Holiday Wishes, and instead stake our claim in front of Crystal Palace, at the railing so we have an unobstructed view. PiC goes in for some cookies and apple juice, and they have the Pooh characters around the Christmas tree again. I go and take some pictures, then come back and settle in and wait for the fireworks. The reflection of the Castle in the water in front of us is remarkable. In retrospect, I should have gone to Main Street. Best laid plans, I guess, but they have the garland up now, and I'd have to get closer to the Castle, and it was even crowded in front of the Palace...

Various Castle Shots
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You can see the 360 degree fireworks better from in front of Crystal Palace, though, something you miss on Main Street. The faces and presents were well represented, but you miss the Castle being turned into a Christmas tree.

Holiday Wishes, Magic Kingdom
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Holiday Wishes over, we venture deeper into the park, but not by way of main street, which is a mass of humanity heading for the exit. A bunch of us play follow the leader (I'm the leader) and go through the smoking area in Liberty Square to get to the interior of the park. We're going to do Haunted Mansion (the stand-by line is 5 minutes), but the line goes all the way out to Liberty Square. Not wanting another Jungle Cruise wait, we pass. All queue line times are bogus shortly after an event like the fireworks or the parade.

Entering Fantasyland, even iasw has a line. Uh-oh, this could be trouble. PPF's line is also insane, but Pan's queue is always insane. Wander over to Pooh, but the hundred acre woods characters aren't out. Donald is, but I have pics of Don in his Christmas costume. I was going to go into Toontown and say goodbye, but our legs are slowing down...

Look. Space Mountain. 15 minute wait. PiC's willing so on we go. Fun time, and the ride is much smoother than I remember, but I haven't been on Space mountain in years. We take the long walkway out, and PiC ain't feeling too hot after. I'm more tired after the adrenaline wears off too. So we go on the Transit Authority, and it's not as bad a spiel as I was expecting. We could have ridden twice, but get off and go back downstairs.

Space Mountain has crashed...
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MILF is a walk-on. I look around, and maybe 25-30 guests are in the theater. That's not a good sign. The fewer the people, the greater the chance of becoming one of their victims. And I am. I'm not "that guy", but I am the Dancing Guy. I'm called the lampshade guy, 'cause I never take off my hat. Crap. I do my best, which is still crap, but the audience appreciates it. :-) My hat even does a dance. Nothing like public humiliation to wake one up. But I forgot to take a picture again. Rats. This is the second time I've been picked on. Maybe I just look funny.

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We're out, and are going to leave, but we get to the Noodle Terrace just as Santa goes by for the second parade. So we get a couple of cookies and some Apple juice, and sit at the terrace for a while. I need to get some pics off main street of the castle and Town Square now that the Christmas tree is in place, and the garland up.

We get to Main Street, and of course, there's a forecourt castle show on, so the Castle lights are dark. We have to wait for the show to end before the lights come back on. A few pics later (and a few more from Town Square), we on our way back home.

Main Street at Christmas, Magic Kingdom
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The bus line to AKL is long, but not as long as some of the others. There's an AKL bus there, and they load, the bus leaves, and another appears almost immediately. That's because the first bus isn't a handicap accessible bus, and they bring one in that is. Of course, they have to load two handicap guests, and it takes about 15 minutes. More proof that one of the reasons transportation sucks at times is the loading and unloading of wheelchairs and ECV's.

In the end, however, there's space for two more, and the people in front of us, are in groups of more than two, or don't want to stand up, so PiC and I get on the bus. Don't they realize they're going to be standing there for 15 minutes for the next bus? So we're the last ones on, but the first ones off at Kidani. Whattadeal. Okay, so this is a time when an ECV helped our transportation...

We're dead tired, our feet hurt, and PiC still isn't doing well from Space Mountain, so we call it a night. Hey, it's only 1am...
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End December 2009 Trip Report - Part 4.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 3a Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

  • 08/24/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/30/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2