[ed. I apologize for delay in the final installment of my trip report. Life got in the way. There is a price you pay for going on vacation. It's called a pile of work waiting for you to get back.]
Well, it was hard to get up this morning knowing that in 24 hours I would be waking up in my own bed and having to go to work.
Even though we did a majority of the packing last night, we still had some to do this morning since we had stuff that couldn't be packed to their necessity in the morning (for example, toiletries). We quickly got that done. We also took pictures because we learned that if you get your luggage misplaced, you will be asked for a description of the bags and it's contents.
So, I unpacked the laptop and fired it up. I paid the $9.95 fee to get on the Internet and got the necessary information.
We did one last check of the room to make sure we didn't leave anything behind and then headed to the bell station to check into our flight home and stow our carry-on bags because we aren't getting picked up to go to the airport until 3:15PM.
The check-in process was smooth and painless and we got all our bags properly tagged to their final destination. As we learned from last year, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your bags and make sure all of the ones you are checking in are getting tagged and tagged for the correct destination. When we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge last year, we had two bags that accidentally didn't get tagged. We quickly caught it and got it rectified.
After getting checked in, we headed to the front desk. I wanted a revised bill to reflect the $9.95 fee I just incurred for two minutes of Internet time. After hearing my story, the lady behind the desk asked her supervisor for permission to reverse the charge. Her supervisor (who was standing next to her) told her that she didn't have to ask for permission for those kind of things because she has been empowered by management to do what it takes to make guests stays memorable.
So, not expecting it, I got my charge reversed. Yes, it was $9.95, but that is also the cost of a trading pin!
After getting that situation resolved, we walked over to The Springs bus stop to head back to EPCOT since it was still marked incomplete.
That was probably not a good idea, since we found that particular stop was quite populated.
Once we got to EPCOT, we decided to go counter clockwise around the World Showcase since that was the side that needed our attention. We hit the Mexican Pavilion first. Since our previous trip, the attraction inside the giant Temple was refurbished to be themed around the Three Caballeros. As some people have nicknamed the ride, "Finding Donald". I must say that this ride has benefited from the new video pieces that were used to replace the dated films from the early 80's. Now Donald, Panchito, and Jose Carioca are everywhere. I know there are probably some people who don't like the introduction of animated characters to EPCOT, but in this case, I can say that I think it fits. If someone was to ask me what do I think of when someone says Disney and Mexico, it is the Three Caballeros.
After Mexico, it was off the scenic country of Norway, or as I used to call it as a kid...Norwegia. I was outside taking a picture of the waterfall that is part of the Maelstrom attraction when a nice Norwegian Cast Member asked if my wife and I would like our picture taken. She was very careful with what she admittedly stated was a very expensive camera. After our picture was taken it was onward toward the very dark and cold Maelstrom attraction. This is a very simplistic ride, but it really gets the point across that there is a rich culture revolving around the sea and they have a lovely fantastical past where trolls and other woodsy creatures were believed in.
After Maelstrom, we did the unthinkable. We stayed for the movie that they dump you into after you get off your boat. We typically, as do most people, just cut through and move on. This time my wife felt we should see what we were choosing to skip. All I have to say is now that Canada has a nice new and modern movie, Norway needs to get off their butt and bring their movie into the 21st Century. You know you when you have an old movie when you see a shot of a computer terminal and it has the tiny green monitor, the keyboard with the giant, chunky keys, and sports a 5.25" Floppy Drive. People may stay if you modernize it and show off some of those great Norwegian Swim Suit models that they are famous for [ed. Honey, stop hitting me, it's just a joke].
After getting out of the movie which wasn't as painful as I remembered it being, we moved onto the shop. It is just tradition to get your picture taken with the giant troll. I unfortunately, was having a hard time getting a good exposure with the flash off, so I cheated and "green boxed" it. [ed. Green Box is a photography slang term for using the auto feature. It's called Green Box because it's typically the word "Auto" in a green box on your settings dial].
Before leaving Norway, I needed to get a picture of the giant castle in front of the pavilion. I tried to get it the previous day, but I accidentally over-exposed it. It took a few shots before I could get one I liked with a minimal amount of people in the way.
After Norway we had walked all the way to China before we realized that we were hungry. My wife was very insistent yesterday that she wanted to eat in Mexico when we came back today. So, despite my feet's lack of desire to backtrack, we did an about face and went back to Mexico.
Since we had no table service credits left and had 2 counter service credits left for each of us, we decided to eat at the Cantina de San Angel. We had read quite a few bad reviews of this place and I don't have the most agreeable digestive system, so I was really, really, really, really nervous about eating here. The last thing I needed to discover was that the Mexican Pavilion was so accurately rendered that you even get Montezuma's Revenge here. We both got the Wet Burrito with Churros as our dessert. I must say that the food was muy delicioso (very delicious for our mono-lingual readers...haha). This also marks the first time I have ever eaten a churro and I will definitely have to partake in this lovely deep fried bread and cinnamon delicacy.
We both decided that we really didn't want to see the CircleVision movie in the China Pavilion. It's not that it isn't good, which it is, it's the fact that time is not our friend today. So, my wife just wanted to shop...naturally. Before we ducked into the shops, I noticed that there was a new exhibit here. It's called the Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China. It was mainly dedicated to the huge tomb that was found in China that had an entire life-size army rendered in terra cotta. It was interesting and it definitely fits into EPCOT's desire to be a place of learning.
After viewing the exhibit it was off to the stores in China. I did my best to avert my wife's attention away from the Chinese purses. She has been dead set on getting a purse from one of the pavilions here. Granted, she was trying to get a smaller purse, but I still think she has enough.
After looking at all the cool pieces in the store, we called it quits and headed out. But, we didn't make it far. My wife has become obsessed with a new game she has invented for the parks. It's called, "How many frogs can you spot in the lily pad pond". We sat there for a good time looking for giant frogs in the water. I must say that my wife has an excellent eye because she spotted a good 5 or 6 and several of them I had to verify with my zoom lens on my camera.
After she got her fill of frog spotting it was off to the land of my forefathers....Germany. It was here that I spotted Grumpy sitting quietly on a shelf. We mainly just window shopped. It was also at one of the stores that I saw a porcelain Scrooge McDuck piece but I couldn't swallow the $250 price tag. It was really hard to turn down but with my expensive tastes in Disneyana, restraint must be held.
On our way out of Germany, we stopped at the Würzburg (aka Romantic Road). I used to be quite into the model railroads when I was in Elementary and Junior High (yes, I'm that big of a geek, but the wife doesn't seem to mind), and this is just amazing considering they use living plants for scenery.
After, strolling through the Romantic Road, it was off to the land that is home to my most favorite food......pasta!
We took a spin through the shops here and took a few pictures. By this point my feet were really hurting and time was running out for us. So, I think my lack of enthusiasm and zest for shopping is starting to take a toll on the wife. But, we still have Japan left. As I said in a previous post, my wife really likes that shop in Japan. It turns out that she has been eyeballing some bamboo placemats that are on sale here. Unfortunately, I made a fatal husbandly mistake. I told her that she could not get them, nor could she get the Japanese purse that she liked.
Now before my female readers rip me a new one, let me state my case. We are currently in the process of building a custom home here in Oklahoma. Well, most of the figures we have been getting related to the costs were very, very, very rough and we still didn't have a very accurate guesstimate on how much it was going to cost as a total. At this time we are about 2 weeks from it being done and my fear was that we'd go crazy on vacation and find that we didn't have the money to cover our house closing (we are putting the 20% down to avoid PMI and escrow). Yes, what she was wanting was not extremely expensive, but I viewed it as an unnecessary expense and something that you could get outside of Disney.
Needless to say, this caused a bit of tension between us and I tried real hard to smooth things over because I didn't want the end of our trip to be an argument. Some talking it over seemed to make things better. We are coming back in December, so there is a chance those items or something better will be available then.
After Japan, it was time to head back to the room, but we wanted to swing by Downtown Disney to do a quick drive by on some shops. I wanted to see if there was a special $1 pin at the Pin Traders store there. Plus, I wanted to see about getting a Beauty & the Beast snow globe they had at the World of Disney store.
Well, there wasn't a bus that ran from EPCOT to Downtown Disney, so we decided to take the Monorail to the TTC because we were sure there was a bus there. When we got to the TTC and walked out to where the busses are, we found that there wasn't a bus to Downtown Disney from the TTC.
So, I went and asked someone at the Information desk and found that we needed to get to the Polynesian Resort and can catch a bus from there. We could've walked, but we decided that the monorail was cooler and easier on the feet. So we ran back to the monorail station and walked up the ramp to catch the monorail. When we got to the top, we were told that we couldn't catch it from there because it was only the Magic Kingdom Express that picked up there. So we had to go down the ramp and then go up the next. We had always caught the monorail here, but I guess in the middle of the day, the only let you catch the monorail to resorts on the other side of the tracks.
After getting off the Monorail at the Polynesian we made our way out to the bus stop for the resort. It didn't take long before the bus to Downtown Disney to show up. We climbed on board and relaxed.
Well, it turned out they were doing concrete work on the Downtown Disney stops, so the only stop was the one at Pleasure Island. So, we had to get off here and walk to Downtown Disney.
We quickly made it to the Pin Traders shop and found out that they did have a $1 pin, but they were sold out. But, that didn't stop my wife from finding a pin that she wanted and we quickly paid for it.
Then, it was off to the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop in Downtown Disney. Apparently, I still had a debt to pay to my wife for making her walk all the way to Downtown Disney to purchase our Annual Passes on our first day to find out that I didn't tell her to bring her photo ID. My wife ended up finding some fudge that she wanted and we paid for it and went on our merry way.
On our way out of Downtown Disney, we decided to blow the last of our Snack Credits at Goofy's Candy. I didn't think you could actually pull that off, but sure enough, we did. My wife picked out 4 items under $4 and we ended up with no snack credits when we were done.
Unfortunately, at this time, we ran out of time and needed to get back to meet our Quicksilver driver at 3:15PM.
We didn't have enough time to ride the water taxi so it was foot power for us. We hauled some serious butt back to Saratoga Springs and got there right at 3:15PM. But, as luck would have it, there was no driver there. But, he wasn't that late. He was there around 3:20PM.
We threw our bags in the back of the towncar and headed to the Orlando Airport.
Security was busy, but I've seen worse. But I have to say that the TSA agents must've slept through the day in class where they taught about spreading the Disney Magic. I've met nicer drill sergeants. They were yelling at passengers to empty their pockets and if they didn't they just kept yelling. I swear I heard one say, "Hey tell that idiot to empty out his pockets in his cargo pants".
I once again asked my wife if she made sure she got all liquids out of her bag and she said she did. I'm an old hat at the security lines, so I had my shoes off and laptop out of its bag by the time I got to the conveyor belt.
We threw our bags on and walked through. As my wife's bag was coming out, a TSA agent pulls it off the line and tells us to step to the side. We had plenty of time so I wasn't worried about that, but I was worried about what contraband we had and how we were going to get it home. I was sure it was the sticks on the giant lollypops that my wife bought at Goofy's Candy.
The TSA agent was much nicer than the others I have seen up to this point. He was cracking jokes and being real nice. He starts digging through my wife's bag and then pulls out a water bottle with about an inch of water at the bottom. Apparently, my wife completely forgot it was in there and it must've been in there for awhile because I typically carried the water bottles. The TSA agent joked with my wife about her not knowing it was in there, tossed it in the garbage and we were on our way.
As is habit, I checked the monitors to see if our gate was still the same. Sure enough, it had changed and we made our way to the gate. I plopped down in my seat while my wife went on a hunt for Dr. Pepper. Sure enough, as rumor has hinted at, Orlando's airport has free Wi-fi. I was able to play on the Internet for a bit while we waited to board.
We had no hiccups on the way home and we got into our house around midnight.
My wife quickly unpacked the bags, while I pried off my shoes and removed the band-aids. The blisters were huge. So I took pictures for posterity.....haha
I was going to post a picture of my blisters, but I will save you the horror........