As I wrote in my last post on this topic, we left The Magic Kingdom around 8:00 pm to begin the trek back to the hotel. This turned out to be a tad of a goat rope since the bus driver that am had told me we'd catch a bus outside the entrance to The Magic Kingdom. We wandered over there; no. These were buses to the resorts within Walt Disney World, we needed a bus to the resorts in Downtown Disney. So, we had a choice; take the Monorail back to the transportation center where we'd get the correct bus or take the ferry across the lake to the same place. We opted for this since the ferry was a much closer walk than the Monorail. At the transportation center, several of us needed to use the facilities. Bad idea; they were totally disgusting, which really surprised me, this being Disney and all. After talking to a few more people, we found where we were to meet our bus and got there just as said bus was disappearing into the horizon. This meant a wait of about a half-hour. Anyway, we finally ended up back at the hotel and this digression of mine simply points out that, yes, having free transport from the hotel to the parks is nice BUT you really have to play the system correctly or it can turn out to be somewhat inconvenient, especially as the rules appear to change daily.
After checking into the hotel (two rooms side by side), we drove over to a Chevy's Mexican Restaurant not too far from the hotel (but far enough that walking would have been too much). I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and the quality of the food. After a day of walking, everyone was in "starvin' Marvin" mode so we happily munched away on chips and salsa and our entrees. As a side note, I was both happy and dismayed that the restaurants puts the calorie intake next to each and every menu item. Suffice it to say, I had a grilled chicken and avocado salad.
After a good night's sleep, we were all raring to go the next morning. We were showered, dressed, breakfasted and out to meet the bus by 8:30 am. This meant that we arrived at The Magic Kingdom just after it opened (after going through the transportation center/monorail/park process). Zack, Natalie and I made an immediate run for Splash Mountain to get Fast Passes. When we got there, we found that there was only a five minute wait so we decided to just go on the ride. Zack ended up totally wet, which he seemed to find great fun; so much so that he wanted to ride it again. Natalie and I declined but said we'd go wait for him in the spot where we could see his log come down the mountain and get a picture. It seemed to take forever! I ended up with probably close to thirty pictures of logs coming down the flume. Interestingly enough, some were totally empty
and one had just one single rider (Zack later explained he was some sort of engineer "testing" things).
Natalie and I were never quite sure if we saw Zack come down; he finally came wandering up to us so I figured I must have (which, of course, I did; thankfully, he sat up straight and tall so I could identify him later when going through all of the pictures). He's in blue, and if you hit "Ctrl + Shift", it should blow the picture up some.
Next, we met mom and dad for The Jungle Cruise ride. Still the same corny jokes. After, the three of us ran over to Space Mountain. We finished up our stint at The Magic Kingdom with the nostalgic Carousel of Progress.
Around noon, we took the monorail to Epcot (via the transportation center). Wisely, I went over to find out where our bus would pick us up later that night so that we wouldn't be wandering around confused and exhausted when we were ready to get back to the hotel.
Posing near some of the flowers. They're getting ready for their annual flower festival.
First up in Epcot was FOOD. And, it's a great place for it. I discovered that, even when the International Food and Wine Festival isn't going on, there is still plenty of tasty food and adult beverage selections, including my favorite Fiesta Margaritas (which mom and I promptly took advantage of). Natalie wanted something from Japan and dad and Zack ended up with Fish and Chips from England. After eating, we took our time wandering around the world. The kids were interested in exploring each country's shops and settings so I actually saw some things I'd not ever seen before. Zack got the idea to try on hats in each country. I took a few pictures; I'll have to get the rest from dad.
In Japan. There wasn't really a "Japanese" hat but this was in their gift shop.
Big Uncle Sam hat in the USA.
I liked this shirt (didn't buy it, though).
Dad in America waiting for us to finish up with the picture taking.
Throwing coins into the "Trevi Fountain" in Italy. I told them this means they'll all come back to this spot one day (Zack's did eventually end up thrown in!)
We settled in Germany awhile for lunch for me and mom (brats) and a snack for everyone else (pretzels, cheesecake and beer).
Beers and texting.
At this point,it became apparent we may get some rain so we boogied on through rather quickly, stopping for a quick photo op in China.
We were in Norway when the deluge started so we side-tracked and got on the Maelstrom ride (always great fun) and also found some defective Viking helmets in the store.
Unfortunately, the rain kept us from really enjoying the last part of the world showcase and we never did get on any of the thrill rides but we did go into the Coke place where we sampled different sodas from around the world (some quite disgusting; although I liked the Italian one as it tasted like a non-alcoholic version of Campari (this is one, of course, that the kids thought was especially nasty!))
and managed one final ride on our way out (the one that goes up into the silver golf ball looking thing; now I can't remember what it's called but it is basically a journey back to the starts of communication).
Joy of joys, we got out to the bus stop area before the bus showed up although we still had a wait. After taking the long ride over to Hollywood Studios to pick up more passengers, we finally made it back to the hotel, all of us ready to eat again.
This time, we opted for Uno (right next to Chevy's). Again, I was impressed with the food selection (no calories this time!) I had no idea they were so nice; will probably go to one again.
Back to the hotel where five tired people zonked out rather quickly.
We were in the car and heading home (after a quick stop at the huge store in Downtown Disney to check for souvenirs) by 10:30 the next morning. No doubt, Orlando and the whole WDW experience is convenient to those who live in Florida (and a heck of a lot cheaper). Although the hotel is not the best by any stretch, it isn't awful and I'll probably keep going back there so long as they maintain the free transportation to the parks.
On to other adventures!