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Keane's September/October 2011, "Now, For Something Completely Different" Trip Report (Part 3)

Index

Jenny and Mom
Jenny and Miss Marie on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
General Info:
Who: Me, Keane. Author, planner, survivor...
     Mom, aka "Miss Marie". Mobility impaired. First time WDW guest. Sorta.
     Jenny. No BYPT this time. 5K participant and fellow survivor.
     Karen. My GPS. (A Garmin nuvi 1390)
What: A trip to Disney World with Mom
Where: Walt Disney World, Saratoga Springs Resort
Why: Because all the stars aligned, and it's something I thought would be nice to do before the world ends on December 21, 2012
When: September 27 to October 3, 2011

<Disclaimers>
All Disclaimers from Part 1 still apply.
Thank you.
</Disclaimers>


Day 2. September 28. Jenny Arrives and Animal Kingdom.

I try to get some sleep, but I'm up early because I'm up early, and work on the laptop and finish posting Dragon*Con to the website. Also make cryptic notes until Mom gets up. I've made a full pot of coffee, so we have a cup. Our balcony overlooks the bicycle/quadcycle rental place, and from the balcony you can see the bus stop and the icon of the resort.

Mom wants to go along to pick Jenny up at MCO. No problem. We have her walker here, so she walks out to the car, and I can barely fit the walker in the trunk without having to take the handles off. I make sure there's actually room in the car for Jenny, a little pixie dust, and off we go!

Mom has confused Lisa with Karen. This is made worse by the fact I refer to Karen on the way to the airport. I correct her, and she will remember I've corrected her before, but that doesn't stop her from making the same mistake again. Early in the planning of this trip, Jenny asked what I wanted her to do. Number one, was to help in places I couldn't go without getting attention from the Orange County Police; and two, keep me sane. Not necessarily in that order. Moral of the story, Lisa, is if you ever meet Mom again and she calls you Karen, just go with it...

Jenny's flight is supposed to arrive at 9:15. She is on the ground at 9am. Instead of being in the cell phone lot and waiting to see where she shows up, I go directly to arrivals.

At 9:15, I am about to make pass 1 around the arrivals/departures loop, and I get a text. "Where are you?" Well, I'm here in the car. My phone rings. It's Jenny. She's lost. She's flown out of the airport dozens of times, but she has never flown into MCO, and can't find either arrivals or departures. I am asked how to find the arrivals area, like I know how to get out of the airport I haven't been in since pre-9/11. She hangs up to find a human to ask. It occurs to me that if she had taken her suitcase, she would be at arrivals right now. Unless she couldn't find baggage claim. But instead, I was a nice guy and took her suitcase, proving once again, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Third time around the loop, my phone rings, and as I answer, I spot her walking along arrivals. Success! We leave MCO, and Karen wants to put me on I-4. That's actually different behavior, so I follow her directions. I find the entrance to SSR is pretty much right off of I-4 down Hotel Row. I learn from this, I have to take her back to the airport at the end of the trip.

We go back to SSR, and prepare for the first foray into a park with a scooter. As much as I have complained about the ECV loads on the buses, I have now become the focus of my complaints. I vow to cut down on the time it takes to load.

We are in The Springs, and in a way, it is the best we could ask for. It is the last stop at SSR before leaving the resort, so if we're in a crowded bus coming back from a Park, the bus will be near empty when we unload. I have it planned so we never open a park, so we won't have to deal with a bazillion guests at transportation, bag check and the entrance gates. Only once did we not get on a bus because there were too many people on it, but another (empty) bus was soon behind the crowded one. But mostly, the buses were empty (or at least not crowded) going into the parks; and on the return, pretty much empty by the time we get to The Springs. Though I have become what I think is wrong with the transportation system, boarding a bus first with a mobility impaired person was a nice little perk... BWAhahaha...

I learn how to work the belts the first time through, and learn the two different release systems. Usually, as soon as the driver has the ramp down, Jenny helps Mom go down the ramp, and I have the scooter (I should have named it) booted up and ready to go. A couple of drivers were belligerent that it was their job that they do everything, but for the most part, so long as I knew what I was doing, they let the stupid guest do the work. I think we sped up the load and unload times. I feel better about it. ;-)

It's the first time in a park with a large number of people. Jenny and I flank Mom. On the way to the entrance from the bus, Jenny and I distribute the workload. She will take Mom's purse and my fanny pack and go through bag check, I will take mom through the bagless entrance and into the park. We will meet by the maps. Or close to it. Jenny has to go to Guest Services and check on the number of days on a MYW pass, and must renew her Tables In Wonderland (TiW) card.

I ask the procedure for going through the main gates. I use my finger for Mom's, negating the problem of having to scan her finger. My AP still signals it's valid, and we go into the park. I decide to keep her MYW pass, since I'll probably be there whenever she has to use it. A few minutes later, Jenny joins us in the park.

By the time we get there, the first thing we're going to do is lunch at Tusker House. We get to see how to go through a park. We slow down her maximum speed. One of the problems, is when another guest even comes close, she will stop. It takes a while, but I'm able to convince her not to come to a complete stop for non-emergencies, since some idiot in back of her scooter will run into her.

Another problem surfaces early. We are going to Tusker House. Africa. No problem, right? Yes, problem. Mom's a newbie. Newbie's know nothing about the Oasis or Discovery Island or Africa or which way to go or how to get there. So Jenny and I are trying to direct Mom from either side of her. It's really not working. Not only is it noisy in the park, but she's sitting down, and is on a different level than we are.

We finally get to Tusker House, and as Jenny checks us in, I take all the passes and go get fast passes at Kilimanjaro Safaris. We are given conflicting information on whether I can take a ECV into Tusker House. One no, one yes, the final vote comes inside of the restaurant, no. So I get the EVC out of the building and find the place to park the things. I could see traveling around the parks in one of these, throttle in one hand, an adult beverage in another... Hmmm.

The food here was exceptional. We order our drinks, and I take Mom around to the food stations while Jenny waits at the table with Mom's purse. Once Mom's seated, it's our turn, and we let loose on the buffet. I think I had a little bit of almost everything. Including the corndog nuggets and the deserts. Had to have the deserts. I think I even had something green. I did pass on the PB&J's.

Animal Kingdom, Tusker House
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There are panoramic pictures on the walls made up of individual photos. How unprofessional. HAhahahaha... I do take my own panoramic of the food area at Tusker House. I'm getting better at these. Maybe I'll send one to the manager of Tusker.

Animal Kingdom, Tusker House Panoramics
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After lunch, I duck out the side entrance, while Jenny helps Mom outside. I get the scooter, and decide I like the electric motors' ability to deliver 100% of the torque at 0rpm... :-)

We head North from the restaurant, and Fastpass onto Kilimanjaro Safaris. This was the first attraction and divergence from the normal queue area. At the handicap gate in the fastpass line, you are diverted to a third queue. This queue leads to a platform for wheelchairs and scooters, and have their own safari trucks. These trucks are fitted with a platform for a wheelchair, similar to the wheelchair system on the Jungle Cruise boats. Mom can transfer, so we park her scooter and board the truck. Since everyone at this load platform is mobility impaired (and the truck isn't in the way of the other regular attraction vehicles), you aren't herded on and off like the normal queues.

It is really an early version of the handicap system in Toy Story, where the handicap vehicle uses the same track as a normal vehicle, but has a special vehicle and load platform.

CM Greg is our driver, and does an outstanding job of guiding us through our two week safari, slowing down when you wanted a picture, pointing out the animals with the accompanying factoids.

Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safari
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When you exit KS from the handicap area, you are right at the start of Pangani Forest Exploration Trails, so we turn left instead of right. Mom is more engaged attempting to get down the paths than actually looking at the exhibits. I suppose she's much like me, we have a couple of excellent zoos in Chicago, so animal exhibits aren't that engaging. However, it's apparent the winding path is stressing Mom out. (I am leaving out the numerous mishaps with the scooter. The frequency of incidents does decrease as time goes on, so it's just a learning processes. :-)) The idea of doing Maharajah Jungle Trek is flushed. We need a place to park for a while. It's Sunny and Hot, our first day out, and I want to get mom into the A/C for a while. Animal Kingdom is a bad park for this. I should have thought about that. In my defense, it wasn't supposed to be 90+ every day. That's what you get when you listen to the weather guys. ;-)

We find giving directions from being beside her isn't working. Sometimes she doesn't hear us, or she still won't understand which way we should go. Multiple paths through the Trails doesn't help. I think it was here we discovered things go a lot easier if I take the lead, and all she has to do is follow me. Jenny hangs back with Mom giving more specific directions and explanations. But that way, she never has to ask which way to go.

Animal Kingdom, Pangani Forest Exploration Trails
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I realize Mom hasn't been drinking (or the consequences thereof), so we make it a point to take water breaks. (Yes I was talking about water. Sheesh.) I make a mental note to freeze some water bottles. I have a full-size fridge after all.

We're going to go toward Asia via a bathroom stop for Jenny, and Disney has cleared an area along the path between Africa and Asia with a view of the Tree of Life that I haven't seen in a while, at least not with a higher resolution camera. I stop to take a couple of close-ups of the Tree and the detail on this side.

Animal Kingdom, Tree of Life, North Side
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Mom and Jenny go ahead and stop by a place just past Africa where DeVine is playing. There's a crowd now watching DeVine, and Flights of Wonder has just gotten out, so the entire walkway between Africa and Asia is a mess. There isn't another FoW show for over an hour, so we're going to go see her first 3-D Movie, "It's Tough To Be A Bug" (aka ITTBAB).

I should explain that Mom's never driven a car, and hasn't been on a bicycle in decades. So she generally gets the idea of the scooter, but lacks a little in execution. Her vehicle these days is generally a walker, which really pretty much turns on a dime and doesn't move very fast. There are generally two major problems. First, she doesn't realize her footprint is now defined by the wheels of the scooter, and second, she has to learn that her new pivot point for your space isn't under your butt anymore, but by the back wheel. So when turning the scooter in a tight space, you have to move beyond the corner a little bit before turning, otherwise the back end of the scooter will hit the corner. These concepts take a couple of days.

We enter the ITTBAB queue, and I explain to her that we're going through the root system of the Tree of Life, to see a movie. AFAIK, she's never seen Bug's Life. Then too, when I first saw ITTBAB in 2000, I hadn't either. But then too, it's not really necessary, since there aren't really any references to Bug's Life other than the appearance of Hopper. The movie after all, is less about a Bug's Life than the effects, lol. We are funneled into a corral for wheelchair and scooters, and are put into the back of the theater. We transfer Mom to a seat, and I go park the scooter.

I still lean forward when the wasps come, and the bugs leaving is more a thrill than anything else these days. When the movie ends, I wait until everyone leaves, and back the scooter up for mom to get on.

We exit the theater, and for no good reason, go into a store. Mom wants something, and it's an inexpensive item, so I pay cash and get several Sacabux (Golden colored One Dollar Coins) in change. I haven't seen the new ones, and give one to both Jenny and Mom.

We also buy Mom a hat. It's hot and sunny, and she should have some head protection. The CM mentions there's a handicap view area right across the way, and the parade will start in 15 minutes. Or 25 minutes on this side of the park. So what the heck, we'll stick around for the parade. There is nothing about the parade associated with any movie, either, so no explanations are necessary.

Animal Kingdom, Park Detail
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I am out of water, so I go to a nearby vending stand and buy a cold bottle. Another reminder I must freeze some water bottles for tomorrow. Interestingly enough, there's an air conditioning system that blows directly down on the guest as you're buying something. I'm the only one in line, and I remark on the air conditioning, and to please forgive me that I'm taking so long to put my change away, carefully fold the receipt, put the wallet back into my fanny pack, open the bottle of water... I also tell him Disney should charge guests 50 cents/minute to stand there while waiting for the parade. I did note that the parade line CM's did stand in front of that window during the parade...

The parade dances by, and we start to leave the park.

Animal Kingdom, Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade
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Jenny wants pictures of a ring-tailed lemur, so I stop and take a couple of pictures. I tell them to keep going, and I'll catch up. I never catch up. I make it to the entrance gates, and they're nowhere to be seen. In case they didn't understand me, I wait by the gates. They wouldn't go any further than this, right? They don't show up. *I* have Jenny's cell phone, so calling her is useless. I try calling Mom's phone, which I explain, if we ever get split up, to use it to find each other. A dozen calls later, and she still doesn't answer the phone. 30 minutes later, I finally get a call, they decided to keep walking, and are in front of Rainforest.

Jenny will carry her cell phone herself from now on, and actually use it. sigh.

Animal Kingdom, Misc Park Detail
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We want Mom to eat something else, so we go to Artist's Palette for some food. We order a few flatbreads. Mom had a pepperoni flatbread, Jenny had the chicken and artichoke flatbread (minus the chicken), and I have a cheeseburger flatbread. First time I've had mustard, lettuce and pickles on a pizza, but it was very good for a Disney Pizza.

We're going to call it an early night, it's been a long day. Jenny flew in this morning on little sleep...
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End September 2011 Trip Report - Part 3.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

Revisions:
  • 10/21/2011 - Page Added
  • 08/25/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/30/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2