|We had scheduled our visit so we would be there early in December,
but our accident in Texas made us reschedule for early in February. We
were worried that the park would be crowded but were pleasantly surprised.
We never had to wait in line more than one or two minutes. Probably the
reason for this was that it was cold, cloudy and rainy during most of our
6 day stay. But we had lots of fun anyway. I only carried a camera on the
first afternoon while we visited MGM; that day was warm and we weren't
burdened with extra coats and rain gear. The other pictures in this article
have been borrowed from other photographers. I especially thank Toni Taddai---he
is such a great photographer and friend.
We camped at Fort Wilderness which is a first rate campground with nice long paved sites in a wooded setting. Everything is clean, tidy and handy. In fact before anyone new checks in, the site is blown clean by grounds workers. Not even one leaf will be on the pad. The campground rates are not cheap. Ours were $41.00 per night plus tax and that was the off season. But it was well worth it for the convenience of being near all of the action.
Just outside our loop (about 20 campsites are in each loop) was a bus stop and that was our magic carpet to the four theme parks, Downtown Disney, all of the resorts, and more in the 45 square miles of Disney World. It is hard to decide where to start. We had purchased five day park hopper passes which allowed us to go into any or all of the parks each day and included two visits to either a water park or Pleasure Island.
After we were settled (1 p.m.) we took off for MGM. We thought we would have time to do some exploring there before it closed at 7 p.m. We had visited MGM nearly 11 years ago when it was brand new, but knew that more had been added. We especially wanted to visit the Tower of Terror.
The 3:30 parade was next and delightful in a way only Disney can do.
Then we wandered through the New York streets and visited a few more attractions ending our day at MGM by watching the evening fireworks, laser show which was fantastic. At closing, we realized that Epcot was still open and transportation from one park to another is simple so we hopped on a bus and went to Epcot.
Each park has its own theme and attractions and spent our days hopping
from one to another. On our first full day we started out full of excitement
because we were heading to a new park for us---Animal
Kingdom. We had been told to arrive at the park early and make
a bee line for the Safari. Apparently more animals are out in the
early, cooler parts of the day. While we were enjoying the safari, it started
to rain and it remained rainy the entire day. Rain is one thing but cold
rain was unpleasant.
We noticed an attraction called "It's Tough to be a Bug" and decided that would be a fun thing to do on a rainy day since it was indoors. What a treat! This movie was in four dimensions. We wore glasses and delighted in bugs appearing to be right at our fingertips or on our nose. But when we could feel the scurrying of bugs under our seats and feet, well that was something else. How do they do that? Also we smelled the stink bug when that bug was featured.
At Epcot we also delighted in another four dimensional film, "Honey I Shrunk the Audience." When we had been shrunk, we felt like we were in a box. Everyone in the movie became very large. And when these huge people picked us up, the floor tilted and we felt like we were being moved in a box. Oh and when the dog sneezed, we felt it and also felt the mice running under our feet. What a neat experience.
A new feature at Epcot is the General Motors Test Track. That was the only ride or attraction that had long lines. Disney has a neat service now called the fast pass. When lines are long, you insert your park hopper pass in a machine and out comes the time when you can return to the ride and jump in front of the majority who are waiting. We did that for the Test Track and that worked great. We killed two hours by visiting other buildings then took cuts with the help of the gate keeper. We could have stood in line over one hour instead. Who would want to do that? The ride was okay, but I thought it was over rated.
Ron and I both enjoyed Innovations which is in two sections at Epcot. Here new concepts in technology are presented and we had fun playing with the hands on computers and other items. I was especially intrigued with two potato plants growing right next to each other in a glass container. One had been genetically engineered to be resistant to the potato bug; the other had not. The regular plant was almost totally eaten by all the bugs on the plant yet not three inches away, the healthy plant thrived and no bugs were on it.
In the Innovations section we saw a home movie theater that made me want to have one. Ron said he didn't think we could do that with our motorhome though. Technology is so exciting.
The Magic Kingdom is still magical and our day there was sunny although cool. We still couldn't get over the lack of lines for any ride. We walked right in to the Haunted Mansion, the Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and Small World. New in Tomorrow Land is the Buzz Lightyear interactive ride. It was like a giant ever changing video game where you sit in your car and try to shoot targets throughout the ride.
A new treat for us was Pleasure Island, Downtown Disney and West Side. These are mainly shopping and dining areas and are next to each other so one can walk from one to the other. Pleasure Island is a little different in that at 7 p.m. one must pay or have that privilege included in their park hopper pass. There are nine different night clubs at Pleasure Island and all have live bands or other entertainment, but since there is an admission to the area, there are no cover charges in any of the night spots. We enjoyed a show at the comedy club and it was especially nice because we did not have to order drinks or do anything special. Other clubs had different themes and dancing. There was a 70's club and it was packed. We enjoyed the Jazz club where we mainly sat and listened to terrific music and the country western club with a very good band. We especially enjoyed watching everyone dance. They sure knew their line dances and other western steps.
Outside near the comedy club there was a huge stage and a big screen TV where a live band performed. One could walk around with drinks from one club to another or purchase them outside. It was the best party I had been to in a long time.
But we truly enjoyed our two visits to the Adventurer Club. First of all this is a nonsmoking club which I appreciated. Secondly it was just plain fun. It looked like a honest to goodness adventurers club. There were trophies, tribal masks, statues, and tons of stuff one might collect on a safari or such placed on walls and all around. The setting was 1937. Downstairs in the conservatory there was a bar and an odd assortment of chairs. This was a round room and off in spokes were other rooms like the mask room or library. We were just down there enjoying the atmosphere when suddenly the colonel (who looked like a trophy and was mounted on the wall) started to speak. We just thought it was typical Disney animation until he really began carrying on a conversation with some who were standing at the bar.
Then the large mask of a woman's head (much like a Roman sculpture) started talking. Well, it was just hilarious because these figures were picking on people in the room. Then we were all asked if we wanted to go into the library and we did. There we were entertained by Safari Sal, and the club president and others. It was a wonderful comedy show. We laughed about it for days later.
Some of the Disney Resorts
We had one day when we decided to just explore all of the Disney Resorts by taking various busses and/or the monorail. We started with the Magic Kingdom Resorts. Wilderness Lodge resembles the lodge at Yellowstone. In true Disney fashion they even have a waterfall, hot springs and a geyser out near the pool area. The Polynesian was, as you might imagine, much like what one would find in Hawaii. The lush plantings and the waterfalls near the entrance set a perfect stage. The Contemporary Resort is just that and was too modern and stark for our liking. The rates for these three resorts are in the $160---$300 range per night. The rates go up and down with the seasons with Christmas being the most expensive and the summer being the second most expensive time.
The Wilderness Lodge The Polynesian Resort
The second group we visited were near Epcot and in fact within walking distance to that park. Disney Yacht and Beach Club was beautiful and looked like it belonged along a New England coast. The lobby was decorated in a nautical motif and out by the lake was a partially sunken ship. But most intriguing was the pool area at the Beach Club. It had beautiful white sand all around the huge irregularly shaped pool. It seemed to go off in many different directions much like a stream.
Boardwalk was nearby and another interesting design. It was patterned after Coney Island in the 40s. These three resorts were higher in price than the first three, but I don't remember the amounts.
The Grand Floridian is the queen of resorts and breathtaking in all of its Victorian splendor. It is the most expensive resort at Walt Disney World with nightly rates starting at about $300 per night and going up to $500 in the low season. It reminded us of Del Coronodo which is near San Diego. As we walked through the lobby I couldn't get over four or more vases each as large as a dog house jam packed full of fresh cut flowers. Each arrangement at its widest must have measured five feet. The fragrance as we passed by was intoxicating. And I was even more surprised to find more such flower arrangements on the mezzanine. I tried to mentally calculate the florist's bill knowing that the flowers had to be changed often. They were too perfect to be more than a few hours old. In fact at first I thought they had to be artificial; they were that perfect and I couldn't comprehend ordering such a large amount of flowers for one vase.
We looked at the menus and were not surprised
to see that at the Victoria & Albert's dinner was $85 per person (all
you care to eat) or $115 if one wanted to sit at the chef's table. Dinner
did not include wine. No, we didn't eat there.
So after visiting just a few of the Disney resorts we felt fortunate to be able to stay in our own home, sleep in our own bed, yet enjoy all that Disney World had to offer. We had a great time, but when the six nights were up, we were glad to be moving on. We had had enough vacation.
By the way we learned a few fun facts about Disney World from one of the bus drivers.
There are 214 busses and 900 bus drivers to transport people from all the parks and resorts to all the parks and resorts. They operate from about one hour before opening (usually 7 a.m.) to 2 a.m.
All totaled there are 25,000 rooms at Disney World.
And 55,000 are employed by the park.