Saturday, May 16, 2009

DIS Podcast Cruise- Day 2

Day 2 (Saturday) began bright and early- we were up by 6:30am and grabbed a quick breakfast at the quick service venue called Picabu's at the Dolphin- the usual cereal, eggs etc. We were off to the Magic Kingdom (MK) by 7:30am in order to check in for our Keys to the Kingdom tour! Here are the flatties and Nancy on the monorail. I think they are still asleep? an empty MK......the park didn't open until 9am, but if you have early morning breakfast reservations or a tour, you can get in early, which is great. YOu can get some great pictures of the castle and park without hardly a guest in site. This picture was taken shortly after opening- when you see the 'running of the bulls' so to speak......
The WDW theme this year is "What will you celebrate?" Guests get in free on their birthday and they are promoting other special events and venues, like private parties, special gift baskets you order etc. They also give out free buttons at guest services/city hall for birthdays, anniversaries, first time in the park and anything else you can think of. We picked one up for mother, since her birthday would be on Monday.

I got a pic with Roy and Minnie- see how empty Main Street is?

THe Flatties also enjoyed a great pic.

We checked in at city hall for our 8:30 tour. We were given name tags/buttons to keep and also a bottle of water. The tour costs about $60 per person, plus you must have park entry on your own too ($75 for a one day ticket- multi day passes are cheaper). We were told to wait around and took some pictures. We were doing the tour with Andrea and Vinny from NJ, friends from the DIS boards that were also doing the cruise. By 8:30, our tour guide, James was handing out our headsets. We had earphones/headsets to listen to our tour guide the whole morning, which was fun. Guests walking by would always stare at us and wonder why those of us in the back of the crowd were laughing at something.......of course it was because we could hear our tour guide way ahead of us. Here is our group as we started out. The tour is about 4-5 hours with a break for an included lunch. we started down Main Street with intersting stories about the building of the MK.
Here is the one window on Main St that features Walt Disney's name. The tour is all walking, although we did sit in the shade for long parts that included discussions. Our tour guide, James was so hot in those long pants and shirt, I felt for him, it was pretty muggy. He is also a VIP tour guide and has led around the Prince of Brunei and other celebrities. He had some fun stories, whether they were all true or not is to be debated!

I won't spoil all the secrets of the tour. We did enjoy a ride on the Jungle Cruise (with no line/wait!) and the Haunted Mansion as well. We spent a good amount of time sitting near Adventureland hearing stories about how Walt formed his production company and all the ups and downs, including signing away the rights to his first success, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Universal. He didn't read the contract well. Universal stole his animators and offered Walt a 20% pay cut. He said no thanks and later created Mortimer Mouse- his wife Lilian recommended the name be Mickey Mouse. Apparently in recent years, ABC/Disney made a deal with Universal to get the rights to Oswald back by releasing Al Michaels from his football contract. interesting, huh? Our tour featured lots of inside tips about the theming, costumes and guest service Disney is known for. As a former Cast Member, I knew a lot of it, but he still had some great facts that were new to me. We also toured backstage and saw the parade floats in the warehouse and even ventured into the famed Utilidors. Our lunch was good and held upstairs at the Columbia Harbor House. If you are ever looking for an air conditioned, non crowded spot for lunch/dinner at the MK- try the upstairs seating area, most folks don't know it is there. At lunch, we were given a special Keys to the Kingdom pin! In closing, someone asked James what his favorite memory or moment was.......he said he had a VIP tour for a wealthy family who had a son with Cerebal Palsy and he did not walk. He said he was playing wtih the 4yo on the floor, playing 'cars'. He was having a blast and said the child got so excited, he stood up and walked 10 steps!!! He said it was amazing and he still keeps in touch. amazing what the mouse can make you do huh? Our 8:30 tour finally wrapped up wtih some special info about Tinkerbell's flight which was pretty interesting. We were all hot and tired by this point, as we spent a lot of time on the concrete areas. So at 1pm, we wrapped up and decided to grab some ice cream and relax a bit on Main Street.

Nancy decided to go her own way and shop and head back to the hotel. My parents and i wanted to go as long as we could and see some attractions. After our ice cream, we headed towards Tomorrowland. I can say it wasn't that crowded, but it is still hard navigating a wheelchair around with any crowds. We got fastpasses for Buzz and then went on Monsters Inc. a first for my parents. We all enjoyed it. Next was Buzz, mother and I shared a car. My dad beat us though. Space Mountain is down for a refurb through Thanksgiving, so we couldn't do that. James did hint that it was undergoing some big transformations, so I am guessing the rumors that it might be getting a major facelift like the Disneyland Space Mtn got might be true! We can hope and hopefully will get to experience it in December. Next we headed to Fantasyland- Pooh and Snow White had long waits, so we went to Philharmagic instead and our music loving flattie, wendy got a pic there.

We enjoyed the attraction as usual and continued through Fantasyland- it was crowded back here and tends to bottleneck near Small World, which was also undergoing some rennovation on the outside. We bypassed these to head over to Pirates which is my parents favorite. They had not seen the new updates featuring Jack Sparrow. They enjoyed it a lot. Upon exiting we saw Wendy from Peter Pan with hardly any line, so we jumped in for a flattie pick. Wendy wondered why our family was so flat and she hoped they would survive the trip that way. lol

After riding Pirates, we headed to check out Splash Mtn, one of my favorites, but the wait was over 40 minutes and the fastpass return time was too late for us. So we just headed to an early dinner at Pecos Bill's and then shopped on our way out by about 5:45pm. So it was a long day already. Everyone rested up for a few hours at the hotel.
We had a meet with the other DIS-ers that night at the Polynesian resort. Nancy was tired and decided to pass. My parents and I headed out at 8pm and parked at the Polynesian and headed to the bar for a drink. Then we headed out to the beach where the meet was----we immediately saw a large group of white shirts- it was our group! We met some online friends, got our lanyards and name badges, which i promptly lost mine on the beach. Tracy, our travel agent who works with Dreams Unlimited (owned by the podcast team) was there and it was great meeting her and others I had chatted with online forever. We got a nice seat on the beach and settled in to watch the WISHES fireworks from the MK over the water.

After the fireworks at 10pm, we were beat and called it a night and headed back to our hotel for the last time.

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