Ken's 2008 Trip
Posted 18 February 2008 - 01:41 PM
I was in a continuous battle to fight off all the co-workers that were sick in the office around me. Armed with vitamins and other meds, I fought the battle well but had some loses. So as the day of the trip arrived I had a bit of a stuffy nose each morning and a post nasal drip (TMI). But I soldiered on, as a stuffy nose won't stop me.
Arrival Day (Feb 10th):
The alarm went off at 5am. I was using my cell phone as I was over at friend's house so that we could just get up and go. And just for the trip I sent my cell phone ring tone to the Mickey Mouse Club March. We loaded up the car and were on the road by 6am. Just before dawn it was really neat to see the stars (as we had escaped the lights of Atlanta). And among the stars we got to see Venus, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter all at the same time in a line across the sky. And so we drove on.....till about 1pm.
We arrived and checked in at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. My first impressions were: Nice but kind of theme-less and bland. I am not a pastel fan so all the colors of the resort did nothing for me. But I did like the themeing of the horses, racetracks, and the artists that Saratoga was known for around 1890. And of course the first thing we do as we walk into the room is to turn on the TV so we can get our Stacy "Top 7" fix.
My friends went to the gym to get their workout in as I explored the resort and we met up for our Spa treatments. My friends were getting a Swedish massage and I signed up for a Gentleman's Facial. I have always wanted a spa treatment so I was excited to be pampered and experience my first spa treatment.
They led us to the men's locker room and told us to strip down to what we are comfortable with and to put on a towel the provided slippers and then wait in the Spa Lounge. I was like "For a facial????" ok. whatever. Another TMI moment, I have thing about feet...ew... and I was appalled to put on these slippers that were horrible to walk in, let alone walk up and down stairs in. I waited in the lounge for a bit and then was called into my private room for my facial. I got to lay down and listen to the rain forest sounds and music. The skin expert was great except for one thing. She was too quiet as she wanted me to relax to the music but I wanted to know about the products and what she was doing. I am an information geek. She started off the facial with a quick discussion of my skin and shaving routine and what products I use and don't use. We talked about my "Zones" where I am oily and dry. The facial was 50 min long, relaxing, informative, and the best part was she cleaned out the black heads that I had (TMI again). My friends said that I looked about 5 years younger when I came out. She even told me what to use on the dark circles under my eyes and way I have them.
Of course the products that were for sale there were expensive, and I didn't get them as I still had a whole week in the parks to spend money on.
After our spa treatments we walked over to Downtown Disney and shopped and walked around and ate at Cooks of Dublin (as we decided to try the DDP for the first time this year to experience it). I had the Fish and Chips with the Doh Bar (deep friend snickers bar) for desert. We headed back to the resort for an early night so that we could be at the Magic Kingdom for the Opening Ceremony.
Next Chapter coming soon.... The Magic Kingdom
Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:34 PM
Got up early, and got dressed with my mouse ears included and took Disney Transportation off to the Magic Kingdom. We basically took the bus so that we could be dropped off right at the gate and not have to fiddle with the TTC. Granted that meant no monorail on this trip, but oh well.
We got there about 15 minutes until the Opening Ceremony and since I have never seen it before it was fun to watch. I had a blast wearing my Mouse Ears all day. Usually we head to Adventureland first work our way around the Kingdom that way, but this time we headed to Tomorrowland first as I had never seen the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and my friends wanted me to be "That Guy". And of course I had no clue what "That Guy" was. I liked the attraction alot. I ended up NOT being "That Guy", but was impressed at the level of tech and that the jokes didn't suck. We finished out Tomorrowland (even including Tomorrowland Speedway which I have never been on before) and had lunch at Cosmic Ray's.
Of course and old joke of ours was that I accidentally called the Astro Orbiter as the Astroglide Orbiter, so that we now have to ride it every trip and refer to it by that name.
Loved the refreshed Haunted Mansion. I was in awe. The ride was stopped by spirits when I was right infront of the bride so it was neat to see the new effect for a while before it started again.
Had a Dole Whip Float AND a Mickey Bar
Another thing that I have never done before that I got to experience this trip was riding the WDW Railroad all the way around the Kingdom.
The thing I was looking forward to the most was having dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table and getting to see the inside of the Castle. We got our photo with Cinderella done and I was joking with her that I use her Blueberry Lip balm, and how she was thrilled with it. We joked that I was wearing my Evil Queen shirt and how she might have to warn Snow White about me. I was given a sword as I was a Royal Guest and when annouced to the gathering that my table was ready and and I could regally climb the stairs to the feast....I tripped up the stairs. Then being so flustered, I tripped up them again. Gotta love being a klutz.
I loved the resturant, the decor was exactly what I expected the meal was good (except for the Roasted Pear desert which was my fault as I thought it was a hot desert instead of a cold). The show with the fairy godmother was great especially when the lights all dimmed and the tinkling light effect took over.
With ten minutes to spare we excited the resturant to watch Wishes. Our intent was to watch it from somewhere in near Fantasyland as we thought that would be our only exit from the resturant. But we were a bit surprised when the very Hellga-ish woman pointed us out the direction of the Forecourt Stage. With only minutes to go before Wishes we exited out the castle and there were thousands of people looking directly at ME. My first thought was "don't Trip" but then it was like a scene out of Evita and I had to resist raising my hands in the air to my people. Or expecting them to bow to me like in Mulan. But the energy level was incredible. I know they weren't waiting for me, but being a former stage actor I connected with that energy immediately and I was physically sweeped away by it and physcially stunned for a second or two.... and then my puckish side took over and I started to wave to my "subjects" as I came down the ramp. The CM that was manning the rope was laughing and even turned to my friends and said "If I didn't know better I would have guessed they served alcohol up at Cindy's." Since we really couldn't move past the masses of people gathered there to watch the fireworks we got a front row "seat" for the show. I figured it would have been a bad angle to see all the smaller fireworks but it turned out not to be too bad a spot.
Posted 18 February 2008 - 06:06 PM
Posted 18 February 2008 - 06:37 PM
Wow. I am not even seeing anyone and suddenly I have a wife????
Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:11 PM
Ken In Atlanta said:
Wow. I am not even seeing anyone and suddenly I have a wife????
Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:19 PM
Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:31 PM
I've been hearing alot that people have been getting the castle for dinner more and more. Maybe the prices are finally making it balance back out.
Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:32 PM
Ken In Atlanta said:
Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:39 PM
Ken In Atlanta said:
There should be at least one of me in the shirt. Sadly that was the day it rained most of the day, so I am in a poncho most of the day :-)
But I am going through my pictures as I post so if there is one of me I'll post it and if not, I'll take one
Posted 19 February 2008 - 01:34 PM
We pulled into the back enterance of the parkinglot and were happy to see that we were parked close to the gates (so we basically just walked). We got there 5 mins to park opening. I was hoping there was a show but either there wasn't or we missed it. I was excited to see that from the enterence we could see some people and a ladder on the Earfel Tower, and that it looked like the painters were going to be there. I was excited as I was hoping to get a scoop for the Disney online community.
Headed down Sunset Blvd so that we could hit the big two right away. We toured with Aeorsmith and checked into the Hollywood Tower Hotel. I had one of the scarey moments of my life at the end of the ride too. I was in the last seat in row four of the elevator. So I was right there at the mesh. As the elevator finished its drop sequence, and pulled into the unload sequence I looked over and there right infront of me, about what seemed 3 inches from my face was a creepy ventiloquist doll. I know that gave out a quick yell of fright, but I hope it wasn't too loud and school girlish, but I know that the whole car turned to look my way as I tried to explain what it was that startled me.
Next stop was the Great Movie Ride, as one of my favorite themes played (007) I was looking at the footprints out front as my friends were pin shopping at the Hat. The wait for the Great Movie Ride wasn't long but I was excited to see they were running two cars and that for the first time EVER, I got the cowboy scene, and got to see the bank explode. Our driver was a CM named Gem and she grinned as I called her "Truly Outragous".
Next it was off to Endor. Got to see the Jedi Training Academy for a brief bit before it started to rain. Luckily we were already at the Backlot Express for lunch.
I have to say that I wasn't that impressed with the Backlot Express. I was surprised that I felt that way as the prop shop in college was one of my favorite places to hang out when I wasn't on stage. But this kind of just seemed throw together when you look at other Disney Themed eatries. And the lunch I had was lack-luster too. I had the Grilled Turkey and Cheese sandwich (with arugula and red peppers). It was very bland.
After lunch we headed to Muppets and then pretty much just waited around to see if the rain would let up. It did let up just before Lights, Motors, Action so I got to see that again for only my second time.
Now for the next part I have to give you some background. I detest the Backlot Tour. I find it boring and pretty much just a parade of useless junk. My friends and I jokenly exclaim that the Tour is really just a facade to showcase the icon of new and great religion that is on the verge of sweeping the planet. That of the Great Space Walnut (the ship from the Navagator). So we had to ride the Tour to see the Walnut.
After awhile we made our way back up to Animation Courtyard and got inline for one of my favorite attractions and that is the Animation Studio (where you get to draw a character). Last year we drew Pluto and this year the animator walked us through drawing Donald. The CM wasn't as good as last year's and no one in the Studio drew a good Donald, but it was fun none the less.
For Dinner we had an ADR at Mamma Melrose. This was my first time at the resturant and I enjoyed the food, but the service was horrible. Our waitress wasn't listening to me when I was explaining my concerns with a possible allergy, and she was just plain SLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW. We were trying to explain to her that we were trying to get to Fantasmic (if it was running due to weather) but she was just no where to be found for about 15 min.
But I did get a nice and unfortunate chuckle at Mamma Melrose. There is a chef there that is on the very plus size, and this small boy came in saw the chef and just yelled "Gusteau" (the dead chef from Rattatoui). I couldn't help but laughing as the chef was shocked and yet was still being nice to the child.
We made it to Fantasmic, and was surprised to see that they were going to run a show of it during EMH. We debated if we were going to stay that long and because we were damp we just decided to see the first show and then slowly head out for the evening.
Next Chapter... Animal Kingdom
Posted 20 February 2008 - 11:26 AM
Jambo Everyone, in this installment we head to Animal Kingdom. I know it isn't the "cool" thing to say but I love this park, to me it feeds my spiritual side, as a Wiccan we strive to see the connection to everything in life and to respect the divine that exsists inside every living thing. And here at the Animal Kingdom the conservation message really speaks to me, and we never seem to get everything done during the day (so I don't believe the arguement that it is half day park).
We decided to change things up this time and headed to Kilimenjaro First, instead of Everest. The ride seemed longer than I remembered, and as it was early in the morning and cloudy it seemed more animals were out than I remember.
Next we headed over to a section of the park that I haven't done in four years, we headed over to Camp Minnie-Mickey to see Festival of the Lion King and Pocahontas and her Forest Friends. I had forgotten how much I love the message of the Pocahontas show (despite its sharp cheddar-ness).
After leaving Camp Minnie-Mickey we were trying to decide where to eat lunch in a bit, when the winds picked up and we decided to eat at Pizzafari as we were staying right infront of it and it was empty at the moment, but it as it looked like it was going to rain at any second (it wasn't going to stay empty for long). In my on going attempt to prove you can get other things at counterservice besides a burger, pizza, or hot dogs; I got the Hot Italian Sandwich (with Turkey, ham, Swiss and Provolone Cheese topped with Caesar salad and pesto marinated tomatoes) It was really good, it was "interesting" to have my salad in my sandwich though. And as expected the skies opened up and drenched everyone outside. Luckily it passed over by the time we were done with lunch and it was dry for the rest of the day.
We headed back to Africa to shop at one of my favorite shops (Zwiani Traders), and hit the Pangani Trail and to Rafiki's Planet Watch. We missed to last surgury that was being done at Planet Watch but I got some photos with a few characters (and I guess I shouldn't have had those extra Mickey Bars as I thought I looked fat in these).
It was off to Asia and over to my favorite ride: Everest. Due to the rain the park cleared out a bit more so we were able to ride Everest twice in a row with barely any wait. Riding it twice gave us more oppurtunity to do our Animal Kingdom tradition a bit more... that tradition is to make funny faces or situations for the Ride Photo. This time as I was in the front seat of the car I had room to cross my leg and pretended to be enjoying a nice hot cup of English tea as we went over the hill, as my friends were pretending to panic in the back row. If I can get the picture from my friend and get it scanned, I'll try to remember to post it here.
Next it was off to one of my favorite areas, Dinoland. We had enough time to ride Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur before heading over to see Nemo: The Musical. We sat up close for the show and it was an interesting view to be so close this time. I was glad this wasn't my first time seeing the show as the sitelines weren't great. But I got to see more of the technical production of the show. It was now getting closer to the time for our ADR, so we headed over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek. After watching the Tigers and the Bats (which were very active due to the light level and the time of the evening) we headed to the Yak and Yeti.
I really liked this place. The food was very good (I had the duck), and even got the Monk's Blend tea. We had an interesting discussion with our server about Disney's deal with Landry's. When we got our check it was only about half of what it should have been (we were on the DDP so we were looking for the total to figure out the exact tip). She was a great waitress and we upset to see that it looks like the wait staff gets stiffed due to the "deal" (I can explain this more later if you want).
By the time we got out of dinner, the set had set and I was excited as I have never been in the Animal Kingdom after dark. I loved the look, as it appeared even more wild and adventurous. I bought myself some of the Monk's Blend tea to take home with me, as we headed over to Everest to ride it at night.... and LOVED it even more. After making more faces at the Yeti (which was in B mode all day) we headed back to Dinoland to play some of the carnival games as I wanted a stuffed animal. Since one of my friends is a whizz a games we knew he would win so it didn't cost us much to get the largest prize (we basically only had to play once). The prize was so large that knew I wouldn't have room at home for it, so I ended up giving it to the daughter of my friend that was dogsitting for me. We rode Dinosaur one last time and did the "See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil" for the Ride Photo.
After that it was some more shopping before heading out for the evening.
Next Chapter.... My Non-Park Day
Posted 20 February 2008 - 12:07 PM
Posted 20 February 2008 - 02:00 PM
Or the day I call the beginning of the end. During our last three trips one of my friends has wanted to go to one of the water parks and each time the others of us decide on something else so we all promised that if it was indeed the water park he wanted to do this time, then that is what we would do, no exceptions. Well that was before we found out that Thursday was going to be the coldest day of the trip. Two of us already had sinus issues, and we were hoping my friend would choose wisely about going to the water park..... well Nope. So in order to keep a promise and keep trip harmony it was off to Typhoon Lagoon (or Typhoid Lagoon we later called it) in 55 degree weather.
This was my first time to a Water Park at Disney, and I was told that towels were provided so I didn't pack one of my large, thick beach towels... No we had to pay a dollar for this small, thin towel that I don't even think a thin person could use to walk around the house after a shower (and cover up modestly). So I grabbed up my thin towel, my shirt, and my silly-putty (yep.. I said silly-putty). I was born with some issue to my ears and basically all my life have to keep water from getting in my ears. So when I was a kid the doctors said to use silly-putty as earplugs so that I can keep the tubes in my ears from getting wet. The reason I tell you this will be important later.
So there I am at the big wave pool...shivering. The sign said the temperature of the water was 83, but the air temp was around 55. I told my friends I would see what the water was like and go on the Crushin' Gusher as Stacy raves about it on the "Top 7". I at first decided I was going to wear my shirt into the water as I didn't lose all the weight that I had wanted, but then the logic part of my brain took over and said "Dummy...keep the shirt dry so you can warm up quicker". So I scanned the waterline for someone that was fatter and hairy than me, and I struck gold... Out of the water came these two guys one was about 300 pounds and wore a tiny speedo... I chuckled at the site and swore at myself for leaving my camera in the locker. The other guy looked like Cousin It in boxer shorts... so off with the shirt and quickly into the water I went. It wasn't so bad when all of your body was submerged in the water. We stayed in there for a bit and then decided to explore the rest of the water park.
We headed over to the Crushin' Gusher and got the three person raft. Ok so far as the air temp seemed to picked up a bit, not that you could tell from the push pins sticking out of my shirt by this point, despite the fact that I tried to stretch this tiny towel to cover my shoulders and much of my upper body as possible from the "bitter artic" air. By this point I was being annoying on purpose saying every two minutes how cold it was. I was trying to cope. So as we climbed the tower of Crushin Gusher it got worse... the standing water, and the wind hitting the tower as you rose into the air... My feet were numb with cold.. All I could think of was wanting to get back in the water to warm up. We got to the top and the ride was actually alot of fun. Then we moved on to the Lazy River, and this I could have done all day long. The air didn't seem as cold there (until you got to the areas where small streams of water squirt out at you, or the water fall). It must have been somewhere in the Lazy River that I lose the egg that carried the rest of my silly-putty (I don't know why I didn't leave it with the towel and my shirt). So I all I had was the small amount in my ears and so I didn't have anywhere to really keep it dry and clean at now. So I continued to walk around with it in my ears and keep looking at the Lazy River to see if a red egg would float by. No luck. So we went to lunch at one of the counter service areas there where I proclaimed that I was done, that I think I got water in my ear. I stated I would lay on the beach and soak up the rays of the sun while the rest of my party rode more rides if they wanted. Well we decided we all done.
So it was off to Fantasia Gardens for a round of putt-putt. And this where the trip started to turn bad. It seemed with every stroke of the putter I started to feel worse. Putt....sneeze....putt....hacking cough. And of course the healthy one continued to stay healthy. Friends... gotta love 'em.
From Fantasia Gardens we headed over to the Boardwalk to get some cold medicine and explore the resorts over there. It was then I needed a serious nap before our annual trip dinner at Boma. After the nap and several more pills of cold meds, it was off to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner, then back to the room to sleep and pray that I can make it through the next day at Epcot.
And here is the warning of our tale. No it isn't about the water park or the stupidity of your friendly narrator. No it is something I want to tell you about the changes I have discovered about VISA gift cards. Every year my step-mother gives me some VISA gift cards to take on the trip. Well they have changed this year. It used to be that what ever was left on the card (even if it was 50 cents) was just deducted from the total owed. Well the policy is that if the item you are trying to purchase is above the amount left on your gift card, the card is declined. So here I was trying at every shop to look for items that cost $1.63 and $0.53 (not easy at Disney) because I wasn't going to let VISA just keep that money as to me seems very unfair and even unethical. So don't get the VISA Gift cards anymore if you can help it.
Next Chapter... Epsnot...er Epachoo...er Epcough....Epcot
Posted 20 February 2008 - 06:13 PM
Posted 20 February 2008 - 06:15 PM
No but he was a pushy little bug though. *grin*
Posted 21 February 2008 - 10:57 AM
Woke up took more meds. I knew I could make it through the day, but it wouldn't be pretty. I apologize right now that I didn't take that many pictures at Epcot as I just wasn't up to taking that many, as it was taking most of my concentration not to walk into a pole while sneezing.
We got to Epcot for the rope drop. As this was suppose to be the opening day of the new version of Spaceship Earth (officially) I headed there to check with the CM if this was going to be true. She stated that they are trying to open it up but it was not going to open right at rope drop as they were still working on something.
So we had to make the quick decision do we join the herd of people heading to Test Track or do we join the Soarin' Parade? So we headed off to the Land at a fast clip. In the pavillion the workers were there cheering everyone on with drums and other music makers. We didn't have to wait long for our trip over California so it wasn't bad.
We headed over to Spaceship Earth next and I was excited to see the changes. As I already saw the YouTube videos about the changes (from around Mousefest) I was a bit nervous about the ride and how it was going to be. I made a goofy face when they took my picture (see below). The first part of the ride was great. I was saddened to see the Greek scene was changed from the theatre but it was still nice. The decent was interesting, it isn't the grand relaxing ride down that it used to be, but it is at least fun now. Here is what they do with the picture they take at the front now.
Then it was off to the Seas and boarded our Clamobile and I saw Turtle Talk for the first time. Then was lunch back at the Land at the Seasons counterservice. After lunch it was off to Innoventions for the first time and I got to walk through the House of tomorrow. Then it was over to Test Track to pick up a fast pass.
Now that we were down with Future World it was off to World Showcase:
Grande Tour - Rode it for the first time, not sure yet if I like it over the Rio de Tiempo
Norway - Maelstrom and I actually stayed to see the movie for the first time.
China - Saw Reflections of China for the first time.
Skipped over Germany as we were eating at Biergarten later
Skipped over Italy as there were some performers there and it was packed.
American Adventure - always love it
Japan - shopping
Skipped over Morroco, France, and the UK as I needed to get to Canada
Canada - bought some Maple Tea (yummmmmmmmmmm) saw the renewed O'Canada for the first time.
Then it was back to Germany for our ADR at Beirgartden. As I had mentioned before I was nervous about this meal as my last name is very German and what if I didn't like the food and culture of my people? *wink*. Our table was right out front of the stage and if i wasn't on cold meds I so would have ordered Reisling and/or a beer. The hostess gave me a stern lecture on how to pronounce my last name properly (in German). The hostess wanted us to pull a slight prank on our waiter as apparently he left his CM name tag at home and had to wear a new one and the policy is that he had to pretend to be the name on the new tag. So we were call him Tommy (his real nickname) and not Thorton (the name on the badge he was wearing).
I really enjoyed the show and the food. The Snitzle there was really good, and I loved all the sausages, and the Hunter Sauce. I was surprised at home much of the food I already knew from growing up and visiting relatives. I tried to sway along to the music and participate in the show and I pushed through to do, but it caused me to cough everytime. I wished I wasn't as medded up as I was, because I could have eaten alot more if I was on my game.
After dinner we had about hour before Illuminations so we headed to Test Track to use our fast passes. Then it was back to World Showcase for Illuminations and then shopping and wandering around World Showcase during EMH. We enjoyed a dessert at the bakery in France, and then back to Spaceship Earth before heading back to Saratoga Springs to pack and head home in the morning.
So that is pretty much it folks. Thanks for taking time to read of my adventures.