Saturday, September 15, 2007

Walt Disney World Day 07.....What can I say? I'm a sucker for punishment.

The LandToday, we decided it would be our first of two days to try and finish up EPCOT. After the ordeal of the very rainy and wet Halloween Party of the previous night, we decided to sleep in again.

That meant that we didn't get to EPCOT until around 10:45AM. I wanted to get the Living with the Land attraction accomplished today since it had been down for refurbishment last year. It took a bit of a hike to get to The Land pavilion and when we got there we noticed that there was a 90 minute wait for Soarin' (at 11AM!). I was so glad that we had gotten Soarin' already accomplished the previous trip.

I always like the Living with the Land attraction. I especially like when you go intoTomato Tree the green houses and see all the experimental and non-traditional ways they are growing things. For example. the plants that are just hanging from the ceiling and getting sprayed with nutrient enriched water so that they don't need soil to live. Also, the pumpkins that are being grown in Mickey shaped containers so that they will eventually hold a permanent Mickey shape.

After this ride, it was decided that a trip to EPCOT wouldn't be complete without a visit to see Figment. So we took a walk over to the Imagination Institute to take a look at their Open House with Dr. Figment Nigel Channing. When we got to the ride vehicle one of the "scientists" noticed my birthday button and got everyone in the room to wish me a happy birthday. This is a good time to point of that if you don't like the risk of getting attention drawn to yourself, you might not want to pick up a birthday button.

This version of Journey into Imagination is no where as memorable as the initial version that opened with EPCOT, but for my wife, it's the only one she knows. She really likes it and will sing the catchy song through the entire attraction. I think I saw a few people giving us strange looks as I joined in with her on the song. It could've just been my horrible singing that got the attention.

After getting off the ride, we headed over to the "What if" labs at Imageworks and tried to do the photo thingie, but it is highly popular and I got tired of waiting on these huge groups of people to finish. No single photo booth had just one or two people at it. It was always small packs of people and they were slow, slow, slow.

After our run in with Figment we decided we'll go to the World Showcase and start trekking around the circle. But when we got to the bridge I accidentally reminded my wife that if we went through the International Gateway we were close to Beaches and Cream. So, that meant we were detouring to get some ice cream.Beaches and Cream Sundae

I have to admit that I like Beaches & Cream. We don't go for the Kitchen Sink,but we usually get an ice cream sundae. Since these sundaes weren't considered snacks on the Disney Dining Plan, I had to pay out-of-pocket for this mid-day snack. My wife got a two scoop sundae with Butter Pecan and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream with Chocolate Syrup and I got two scoops of vanilla (yeah I'm that exciting) with the Chocolate Syrup.

After we were thoroughly stuffed with ice cream, it was time to head back to the World Showcase. I must say that if you have blisters on your feet, especially your little pinky toes, EPCOT is not your friend. Not only is there a lot of walking, but most of it isn't flat.

We made it back through the security at the International Gateway (which I might add was very sparsely populated). The first stop in the World Showcase was Canada.

Victoria Gardens @ Canada Pavilion We wanted to see the new Circlevision film that the Canadian Tourism Board produced for their EPCOT Pavilion. I had heard through various Internet outlets that Martin Short was the new host of the movie. I now his participation in the movie had a lot of people worried since many of the attactions he's been involved with before didn't fare well once they were introduced to the paying public. But, I went in with an open mind.

I have to admit that we both really liked the new movie. It definitely was better than the old movie. Plus, Martin Short's self-deprecating humor was nice and brought levity. I especially liked when he said that he needed help finding his way out of the movie because he had a FastPass to Soarin'. The imagary of Canada was phenomenal and I don't think any other type of film could've done it justice but the Circlevision.

After leaving Canada we were on our way to France. We decided that we needed to see the Impressions de France since we skipped this last year. This wasn't a Circlevision movie. That meant we had seats and that spelled trouble for me. I think I slept through the entire thing. My wife said that my head was bopping like a Grump Striking a Pose in Moroccobobblehead figure. I was glad to get out of there because I was fine as long as I continued to stay moving. If I stopped and didn't have something to occupy my mind (ie taking pictures), I fell asleep.

After leaving France, it was off to Morocco so my wife could do a little window shopping in the little stores and bazaars. I took a picture of a hidden Mickey that was painted into the mural of Agrabah in one of the stores in Morocco. Fortunately, there wasn't anything here that my wife really must have.

Japanese Drummer After leaving Morocco it was onto one of my most favorite countries from an architectural standpoint...Japan. My wife likes the store here and that meant we had to go in and look around. I liked the imported large action figures. I used to have a few of these when I lived in Singapore. I don't know where they are now, but I'm sure they are in a box somewhere. But, the smells of the incense in this store really caused my mind to do some flashbacks to the stores I was dragged into as a kid when we lived in Southeast Asia.

After leaving this store, we found that the drummers were performing outside. Being that my wife was on the drum line in high school we couldn't walk past this. So we stood there and watched a good portion of their show while I took some pictures.

After leaving Japan, it was on toward the American Pavilion. I totally forgot about the American Adventure film/stage show when we were here last year and wanted to make sure we got it in this time. We had 45 minutes until the next show but we were mere minutes away from the next Fife and Drum Corp performance so we parked our butts on the edge of the fountain and waited.

The Fife and Drum Corp Sure enough they showed up right on time and they were loud enough I'm sure you could hear them all the way over in Mexico. If you have any anti-American sentiments, you might want to avoid the Fife & Drum Corp performance. Not only do they ask everyone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but they also go through a medley of American patriotic songs. The host also says many pro-American things that might irritate someone who is non-American and doesn't necessarily view the United States in the way Walt Disney did as the place where dreams come true and anything is possible.

A Grump and his Pretzel After the Fife and Drum Corp were done with their performance, we hauled butt down to Germany to get a couple soft pretzels in our bellies before the next showing of the American Adventure. By golly, it was hot at this point and eating salted pretzels may have not been the best of decisions since we only had the two bottles of water with us.

We scarfed down our pretzels and hauled butt back to the American Pavilion just in time to get into the show building before the movie started.

The American Adventure This time, it was my wife who had a hard time staying awake. I had no problem since I was focused on trying to snap photos of the audio-animatronics figures on the stage. This go around, I put on my faster 50mm lens and gave it a try. I'm hoping that with some cropping, that I got some good shots.

After coming out of the American Pavilion it was decided that it was time to head back to Saratoga Springs. Since the American Pavilion is at the halfway point, we decided to just keep going around in the same direction we've been traveling so to see the other pavilions on our way out. I took some quick photos, of course.

Every Person Comes Out Tired We got to the bus stop and weren't as lucky this time to have the bus waiting for us. I took our standard, "Boy are we tired" photo that we like to take from this bus stop. Eventually the bus showed up and we climbed aboard our sweet air conditioned chariot home.

We got back to the resort and my wife took her daily nap while I goofed on the computer.

Tonight's dinner is at Narcoosee's and that means we need to once again get from our resort to the Grand Floridian. It was decided that we'll take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then figure out which way to get from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian once we get there.

My Enchanted Rose on the Water Taxi It was decided that we'd take the water taxi from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian since the boat dock was right at Narcoosees and we didn't feel like walking all through the resort to get to the restaurant. Remember, I have some pretty nice blisters growing ever so larger on my feet.

This night was one of the only nights we made it to our restaurant in time for our ADR. That meant we didn't wait very long to get sat down. I tried to take some pictures of the Magic Kingdom from the outside patio while we waited for our pager to go off to tell us that our table was ready.A Grump at the Dinner Table

The Belle of the Ball Oddly enough, we got sat at the table right next to the one we sat at last year. We once again both ordered the surf and turf. That is a very sizeable lobster tail with a 6oz filet mignon. For appetizers I got the Caesar Salad and my wife got the crab cakes. For dessert, I got the chocolate cake and I cannot even remember what my wife got (shame on my). All said and done, we got a $200 dinner as part of the meal plan. For this trip we decided to burn all our Table Service Credits on Signature Dining Restaurants.

Before our dessert course, our waitress stalled so that we could go out on the deck and watch Wishes. I took out my tripod and setup for action. As I was setting up my tripod, I heard this loud banging on the window behind me. This old lady and her family were very angrily yelling (well at least it looked that way from the other side of the glass) and dramatically waving their arms ordering me to move. Well, yes I did a rude thing because I didn't even think that someone would want to watch Wishes from the comforts of their table. But, I could've been politely reminded of my faux pas not treated rudely back.

Wishes from Narcoosee's #1 So, I took a couple steps to the right and setup. I made the mistake of focusing and pointing my lens in the wrong direction. It quickly became apparent that the fireworks appeared in the sky in a different location than they appear in the sky from the vantage point provided from the California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort.

I quickly adjusted and started snapping away. I made aa lucky discovery with my camera this evening. Apparently, when in full manual mode, if I move past a 30 second exposure my camera goes into what is called a "bulb" mode. What that seems to mean is that as long as I have the button depressed, the shutter stays open. As soon as I let go, it closes. That allows me to Wishes from Narcoosee's #2 decide how long the shutter stays open and not try and predetermine. Why is this important. Well, you don't want to keep the shutter open to long or you just get a lot of bright light on the image. You also want to time when you open and close the shutter to good breaks in the firework action. It takes great timing. If you do it just right you can get some good pictures. Hold it open too long it looks bad.

After Wishes was over one of the people standing behind me told me they were watching the LCD screen of my camera and thinks I got some good pictures.

My wife and I headed back inside the restaurant and ate our dessert and then left.

We headed back to the boat dock to go back the way we came, but the boat captain told us that due to the overwhelming crowds leaving the park he cannot add more by dropping off people with his boat. So we had to go via the monorail. So, I hobbled my way across the resort to get to the Monorail station on the second floor of the main Grand Floridian resort building.

Before we left the boat dock we were talking with another person who was in the restaurant with us who was explaining that they couldn't get a room for this particular week at any Disney resort. She was having to stay off property and therefore was in a big hurry to get back to TTC before the last shuttle leaves for her off-site hotel.

A Grump at the Magic Kingdom Bus Stop When we got off the monorail at the Magic Kingdom, we found ourselves coming off the ramp into a sea of people. You really had to force your way through the crowd to get to the bus stop you wanted to be at.

After waiting for a few moments, we got a Saratoga Springs bus show up. This was standing room only (again). I am sure glad we are the first stop.

That is how this day ended. Lots of fun was had by all.

Stay tuned you never know what fun looms around the corner. Do my blisters finally pop? Do we finally arrive so late for an ADR that we lose our table? Do I finally score the perfect Tim Devine photo of Wishes? Enquiring minds want to know, but you have to keep reading.

At this point, I'm going to have to say that at the time of this writing, it is the night before the day we check out. So it may be a couple days before the next two days show up (Day 8 and 9). We don't get back in till really late on Monday night and I have a lot of work to catchup on Tuesday. But I promise you'll hear how this story ends.

So remember folks, only you can make someone's day grumptastic! Do you part to spread the love.

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