This morning was rough for me. Even though I technically got the same amount of sleep I typically get when I'm at home, I was exhausted.
That meant that we needed to get up by 7:45AM in order to be showered and ready to go when our ride came to pick us up.
We were down in the lobby of The Dolphin by 9:00AM as requested. I kept trying to reach Tim to find out if they had left yet to come get us. I finally got ahold of him and found out that he had trouble getting up as well. But, they were now up and getting ready and would call us when they were close to our hotel.
While we waited for our ride, I took some pictures of the decorations in the Dolphin's lobby.
We eventually got to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and decided to pop into the store to see if we could find Tim some flip-flops. His toe was still bothering him and we felt that flip-flops would alleviate some of the pressure that his shoes were putting on the toe that was causing him trouble.
Naturally, there weren't any flip-flops, but my wife found some great Animal Kingdom hand drawn prints that were perfect for the room we were designing for our future grumpling when he or she is born [Ed note: No we are not pregnant yet, so you don't need to ask. <wink> And you know who you are <double wink>]
After thoroughly stuffing ourselves we decided it was time to try and make it to the Magic Kingdom. We were very eager to try and make Lou Mongello's meets he was having that day. But before we could do that, we needed to swing by Tim's room at the All-Star Sports because he needed some stuff that he had forgotten.
Since my wife had a goal to see the Christmas Displays at as many Deluxe Resorts as possible, it was decided that we'd park at the Contemporary Resort, check out the display and take the monorail over to the park.
There really wasn't that much for Christmas displays in the Contemporary. We were told that it was due to some renovations that were occurring. But there was a giant gingerbread and chocolate sculpture inspired by Pinocchio near the gift shop. Also, in the gift shop on the Grand Canyon Concourse, there was a giant Christmas Tree made out of the Monorail toys you can purchase (Bing Bong Please Stand Clear of the Doors).
We eventually got delivered to the Magic Kingdom and made our way into the park. By this time, we were already too late for Lou's Disney Scene Investigation meet. I was rather disappointed, but I knew he was going to have a sizeable turnout and I'm sure he wouldn't have noticed that I didn't get to make it. Heck, if I was there, I doubt he would've even known I was there since I am easily hidden in a sea of people since I'm shorter than most of the American male population (Judge me by my size do you?).
Heck, we barely made it in time for his TriviaFest. He was getting ready to get started when we walked up. I must say that Enchanted Rose and myself didn't fare that well in the contest and were knocked out early. That is what I get for not
cheating double checking my answer and stalling to see what others answers were before making my choice. The question that got me was, "What is the busiest day at the parks: Christmas Day, Easter, July 4th, or New Year' Day"
We stayed until a winner was declared then made our way to AdventureLand to take part in HeckleFest 2007. This wasn't a MouseFest meet, but maybe it should be.
We got on a Jungle Cruise boat and pretty much shouted out "Hi-o" for every bad pun that crossed our Skipper's lips. Our Skipper was a great sport and played along. It only took a couple times before most of the boat was in on the fun. It was one of the best trips on the Jungle Cruise I have ever had.
Most people just sit there and do nothing while the jokes are delivered. This time there was tons of laughing and audience participation. This skipper knew we did it out of love and he loved it as much as we did.
After getting off the boat, we ran into Paul Barrie of Window to the Magic and he walked with us to the Pirate Meet that was being co-hosted by the Magical Definition Podcast and the Mouse Guest Weekly Podcast.
There was a sizeable turnout. Before we got into line for the ride, a raffle was held for fabulous Pirate-themed prizes. We didn't win anything this time.
The cast members were a bit taken aback when they saw how many people were in one group trying to get on the ride, but the line moved fast and we soon were on our way. For fun, we got the entire boat to shout, "Hi April". I'm sure she has appreciated all the attention Tim has made sure she has gotten during MouseFest. Apparently, the "Hi April" is a Magical Definition inside joke. Every time you see Jackie O's friend and Walt's Girl April, you just say loudly, "Hi April!".
After getting off The Pirates of the Caribbean, we decided it was time to make the "Dash for the Splash" and headed for Splash Mountain. It was clear that the water cannons were not on pause and the chances of soakage was good. In fact, it was better than good. It was most certain. I hate getting wet at the parks. Just hate it. But, this was not just me and my wife, so I had to tag along and just grin and bear it.
It didn't take long to find out that getting wet was going to happen. Yours Truly's behind was thoroughly soaked by the time he got off the ride. I gave Enchanted Rose my sweatshirt. She used this to wrap around her behind to keep her white shorts nice and dry. This is Disney World after all <wink><wink>.
I, of course, had to return the favor to the Disney Geeks and call them from this attraction. Those of you who read their blog will know that this is one of their most favorite rides. They made sure to call me from Splash Mountain while I was in the airport heading down to MouseFest.
We stopped off at the post-show store to see if there were any flip-flops for Tim. Sure enough there were and he snatched up a pair and quickly switched into them.
While this was going on, my lovely wife was hamming it up with some of the hats for sale. She didn't escape the ever present lens of our resident paparazzo, Tim Devine.
After finishing up our shenanigans at the post-show area of Splash Mountain, we hauled butt to Big Thunder Mountain. This is a well themed yet tame Rollercoaster. To us, it wouldn't be a complete trip without a go on this wonderful attraction. I was able to hold my camera on this ride and randomly snap off some shots. I pretty much just shot without even looking through the eye piece. Whatever I pointed at, seemed to make a great shot.
After we unloaded it was decided that we were done with the Magic Kingdom and it was time to do some more resort hopping. But it wasn't before someone pointed out the "Hidden Tinkerbell" that was in the rocks of Big Thunder Mountain.
So, we made our way to the monorail. Our first stop was the Polynesian Resort. This resort was rather anti-climatic. They had several little Gingerbread dioramas but that was about it. I took some pictures but it really wasn't much to write home about.
This meal was fantastic. Not only was the food good, but the company was too. We were laughing so hard at each other you would've sworn alcohol was involved. But we were all stone cold sober. We were probably just slap happy from being so tired.
At one point, someone did something to get me laughing so hard that I just couldn't stop. I was laughing so hard that apparently my laughing was what caused others to laugh and it kept us rolling in stitches for a good 15-20 minutes. It was at this point that Tim, Will, and Jackyln were educated on what my wife has termed, "Ray Funny".
That is when something may not be that funny, but if I find it funny, or even better hilarious, you will find yourself laughing. Not at the material, but at the fact that I find it funny and the way I react to it.
After a much appreciated break over dinner, it was decided to keep on our trek of the resorts and go to the Grand Floridian.
This resort had decorations that were more in line with what we though all the resorts would have. The main lobby had a gigantic Christmas tree and in front of it they had people playing Christmas Music with bells. On the other side was a gigantic Gingerbread House. So large was this Gingerbread House that they had put a store inside of it.
After we got done at the Grand Floridian, it was decided that we were going to part ways. We wanted to see IllumiNations! at EPCOT Center [ed. note: Thanks Tim for pointing out my grievous typographical error by stating that Fantasmic! was at EPCOT. That's what I get for writing at 2AM] and the rest of the group wanted to go to Fort Wilderness for a meet hosted by Kendra Trahan (president of the NFCC) and Nathan Rose.
We got off at the Ticket and Transportation Center and switched over to the EPCOT Monorail. We unfortunately, just missed the Monorail so we had to wait for the next one. This would turn out to be very fortuitous event.
My wife who has never found a cast member she didn't want to talk to, decided to start chatting up the fellow who was working the deck. We had a nice conversation and when the monorail came he asked us to wait.
He ended up putting us in the cab of the Monorail! We have been up here before but it was on the trip back from EPCOT and that isn't as scenic.
Our monorail pilot had been with the company for a very long time and claims to have driven most of the forms of transportation Disney has to offer including the now non-existent Breathless. He was also a Nikon fan and when he saw me sporting my Nikon D80 he slowed the monorail down so I could get some great photos of Space Ship Earth as we approached.
On the way around the Giant Golf Ball, we saw that Space Ship Earth was open again. We knew the George and Andy were here for IllumiNations! (one of the major reasons we were coming to EPCOT). So, I quickly called them to let them know. At this point, they haven't ridden yet.
When I got a hold of them, they were in the worst place possible....Japan! You probably couldn't be farther from Space Ship Earth. They told me they were heading over but wanted me to call if Space Ship Earth was still open when we got into the park.
We decided that since we were there, we might as well ride it again. While in the queue, my wife helped me switch from my 18-135mm kit lens to my faster 50mm lens. I was dead set on getting some shots for this blog.
We rode Space Ship Earth again and I took tons of pictures (see my review that I posted on Day 03).
On the descent portion of the ride, I called George to see if they got on the ride. He informed me that they had just gotten on. I told him that we'd wait for him and Andy on the outside.
After getting out we decided to see if they were still letting people on the ride. Apparently, George lucked out because the gate was already closed.
After awhile I called George to find out where he was on the ride. It turns out they let him and Andy ride again. So, I took the time to hit the restroom.
I was in the post-show area in time to snap a shot of him and Andy getting off the ride. You can definitely tell they were excited about that unexpected trip.
This really turned out to be a case of being in the right place at the right time. If we hadn't decided to break from the group and go to EPCOT and if we weren't in the front of the Monorail we would've never seen that they were letting people onto Space Ship Earth and we wouldn't have been able to call George and Andy to let them know. Plus, I wouldn't have been able to get the better photographs that were taken on that go around. For those keeping score, that was the 3rd time riding Space Ship Earth.
George and Andy expressed their gratitude for the heads up about Space Ship Earth and we discussed whether or not we had time to get an attraction in before the start of IllumiNations. It was decided that we should probably start working our way to the World Showcase.
Jeff Pepper (2719 Hyperion) was already stationed near the Torii Gate in the Japan Pavilion. It turns out that it was a good idea we had decided to skip the attraction and start heading toward Japan.
I guess most of the people there haven't read my blog post about one's Theme Park Footprint because it was exceptionally difficult navigating around everyone to get to Japan by 9:30PM.
We did get to Japan with some time to spare and found Jeff rather easily. We did some talking before the narrator started off the IllumiNation's festivities. My heart always starts to race when the narrator blows out all the giant propane torches that surround the lake.
I know there are tons of people who rank Wishes! as their favorite pyrotechnic show at Walt Disney World. I like Wishes. I even will not miss it on a trip, but IllumiNations has a special place with me.
I don't know what it is about it. It may be that it spreads a message of togetherness and global unity that isn't really expressed in the other shows. But, the music (aka soundtrack) really tugs at me. I love it and it really ties into the fireworks.
For the Christmas Holidays there is a special holiday "tag" at the end of IllumiNations. The only way I could describe is to say it was if someone accidentally dropped a match in the bin where they store all the fireworks. It's was just Armageddon in the sky. But, to use a less doomsday analogy, it was as if there were explosions of glitter in the sky.
I was really glad that we didn't miss IllumiNations. I can leave now and feel good about my stay.
After IllumiNations was complete, we chatted for a little bit and then my wife wanted to do some shopping in Japan. We were sure that the stores stayed open a little bit after the fireworks, but we were wrong.
So, we re-joined the group. George and Andy had decided that they were going to go counter-clockwise around the World Showcase to get back to their car. Jeff Pepper and ourselves needed to go the Beach Club. Jeff because that is where he parked and us because that is were Tim, Will and Jackyln were going to pick us up (it was much easier than the EPCOT parking lot).
We got to our meeting spot at the Beach Club Resort (the portacache in front of the resort ) a bit early so we just sat there and waited. It was nice to be off our feet for a bit.
I must say, at this point, I was exhausted. I think I could've fallen asleep standing up. The World of Disney is a huge store and I got lost a couple times as I wandered around aimlessly. I would have to call my wife on her cell phone just to be able to find her.
If it wasn't for the fact that Tim and I were wandering around taking pictures of the Christmas Decorations, I most likely would've been found curled up asleep somewhere on the floor.
Eventually, my wife found the things that she wanted to purchase and we paid for our goods and left the store. At this point, The World of Disney had already locked the doors and were only letting people out.
We stood outside for a little bit and talked. I decided to take a few pics of the outside before we headed back to the car. My wife and I were dropped back off at the Dolphin where the lovely Enchanted Rose was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
I, as usual, was relegated to dumping the pictures off my SD Flash cards. But, for the first time since I got my Nikon D80, I had to throw my 3rd card into the camera. I took that many pictures today.
While the pictures were being dumped, I started on this blog post. After the second card started getting dumped, I was pretty tired. So, mid-sentence I stopped and left the computer running and went to bed. [ed note: This post was actually finished this post after I got back from MouseFest]
The plan was to meet the gang in the morning around 9AM but I had no idea what we were doing. But, we definitely had to check out and finish packing.....ugh! This trip is coming to an end.....boo hiss.
If you want to see all 548 Pictures taken on this day then you can go here: