Friday, April 27, 2012

Flashback Friday - April 2004


Today's Flashback Friday is a trip report of a trip 8 years ago today. 

(This report has appeared in a number of forms on a number of my websites, so the formatting is a bit off and the fonts vary, please bear with me.) 

Focused On The Magic

 Thanks to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting Flashback Friday.

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Dates: April 26 - 29, 2004

Prelude

This was supposed to be a week with nothing much happening. Sandy had to work since it wasn’t a school holiday, and I had to start using some vacation time since I still had leftover from last year, so I took the week off. The plan was to stay home and vegetate — pure relaxation. Then Sandy started to suggest that I go down and visit our daughter in Florida, but I didn’t truly want to expend even that much energy, and would feel funny leaving her home. But the seed was planted. I spoke with Iris and found that she now had new responsibilities, and new hours and days off, and would be off on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. But still, my plan called for staying home and perhaps doing a few things around the house – or not.Yet, Sandy kept suggesting that I go visit Iris, and when Iris found out that I had decided not to, she was disappointed, and on Sunday night, I finally changed my mind and booked a flight on Song for the next day to Orlando. I would return on Thursday afternoon, giving me two partial days and two full days.


Day 1

I called Iris when she got to work on Monday to let her know I was coming (and that I needed to be picked up from the airport) and to have her make a room reservation for us. Shortly thereafter we were booked into Pop Century for three nights, starting Monday. She also called back and asked if we could go to The Hoop-de-doo Revue that night (a favorite of ours), especially with an extra discount that she had which was valid for the 9:30 show. Of course, I agreed.

I left home at about 11:00 AM for my 2:30 PM flight, giving myself plenty of time to account for traffic tie-ups and delays at the airport. As it turned out, there were none. I got to JFK in about 45 minutes and was soon parked in Long Term Parking — from where you take a shuttle bus to the new shuttle Air-Train to your terminal. I arrived at Terminal 3 where Song is located, and proceeded to check-in. Since I was only traveling with a carry-on, I tried to print my boarding pass from home, but I guess the proximity of the reservation to the actual flight was not enough time for Song’s computer to be able to do this, but no problem, checking in at the airport is just about as easy. (I had done this the last time I flew Song so I was very familiar with the procedure.) I pass the bar code on my emailed confirmation under the kiosk’s reader, and it finds my itinerary and prints my boarding pass with the seat I had picked online when I made the reservation. The flight boarded and left on time, and we arrived in Orlando as scheduled. Iris was just pulling into the airport and met me at passenger pick-up and we were off to check in to Pop Century.
We were assigned a room in the 70’s area.

The wall poster in the 70's rooms at Disney's Pop Century Resort
We brought our stuff to the room and then decided to head to the Magic Kingdom for about an hour before we would have to be in Fort Wilderness for The Hoop-de-doo Revue. We were both hungry, but didn’t want to have a big meal so we each got a hot dog at Casey’s on Main Street and then headed towards my favorite WDW attraction — The Haunted Mansion. The last time I was in the Magic Kingdom , the line was so long that we didn’t have time to wait or get a fastpass, so for the first time since the original opened in Disneyland in 1969, I was in a Magic Kingdom and did not visit the Haunted Mansion . Today, we got back to Liberty Square , and the attraction was closed. Once again, we did not ride. But we headed past Fantasyland and into Tomorrowland where we rode another favorite, the former People Mover — The Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Iris on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority
At that point we decided it was time to leave to head over to Pioneer Hall and the Hoop-de-doo Revue.
We got there and purchased our tickets, while the previous show was still going on. We enjoyed listening to everyone having fun and then watching and listening to them as they left. Once inside we had a great time as usual and when done, are ready for a good night’s sleep to get ready for tomorrow.
 





Day 2

Today is supposed to be rainy, so we decide to go to Animal Kingdom, since it is usually so hot there. We had hoped the rain wouldn’t be heavy or constant, and it wasn’t, making for a rather comfortable visit. My plans were to spend time on each of the animal trails, something that I usually don’t get to do when Sandy is with me, but something that Iris enjoys as much as myself. We head back into Harambe and decide that the best bet is to get a fastpass for the safari. When it starts raining, we decide that rather than do the first trail at that point, we would head back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where Iris first worked when she came to WDW on the college program, almost 4 years ago.

The other night she had run into one of the keepers she was friends with when she worked there, and was surprised to find out that he was still there. She would see and chat with a number of others still there from her days in Conservation Station. We spend some time there, watching a keeper present a talk on the African Pygmy Hedgehog, and checking out the animals in Affection Section. Iris was even surprised how many of the goats there she still remembered. Not much was different from her days there.


Iris as a Conservation Station CM in 2000


Visiting in 2004

We headed back to the train to take us to Harambe and then took our safari. Despite the rain, quite a few animals were out and about and we saw quite a few up close.

By now we were hungry and decided to eat in Pizzafari, one of the places we had not eaten in before. The pizzas had too much sauce for our taste (remember we are NYers where there is a Pizzeria on almost every corner), but the desert pizza, cinnamon apples on a pizza crust, was wonderful.


From here we went to see The Festival of the Lion King in its newly enclosed theater. It seemed shorter to me, and I was disappointed when the bird did a dance upon the vehicle floor, rather than flying overhead as in the past. Also, there must have been a problem with the Simba float as it came in very late, and was pulled off as soon as the show was over while all the other floats were left in place. But all in all, we both still enjoyed the show and would have liked to have seen it longer.


By this time I noticed that Iris appeared tired, and I knew that I was myself — not to mention the chronic pain I occasionally have in my foot had returned a few days earlier — so rather than go back and walk the trails, we decided to call it a day at the park. We got back to Iris’s car, and after a stop for a few things at Walgreen’s, we headed back to the room until it was time to head over to The Beach Club for our dinner at Cape May Café. As good as the place always is, we had a wonderful family at the next table with whom we had pleasant dinner conversation, as well as our server, Karen, who was simply in the silliest of moods and made for a wonderful evening.
When we were through eating, it was back to the room to relax — I was insistent that this would not be an exhausting visit, I needed my relaxation!



Day 3

Day 3 saw us headed to Epcot and the International Flower and Garden Festival.


The 2004 International Flower and Garden Festival






I had never been down for this, so here was something new to see. We once again got up at about 10 AM (no need to rush) and after a quick “breakfast” at the Pop Century food court, we headed to Epcot. We decided to make a Priority Seating at the Japanese Tepanyaki restaurant, and did that as we entered the park. We then headed to Test Track to see if we would ride then or get fastpasses for later. Fastpasses won and we received passes, good for 3:00 – 4:00 . We then headed over to World Showcase to see what Flower and Garden Show elements we could see. (We already had seen some wonderful topiary.) I would have liked to have seen the presentation on making bonsai trees, but it was the previous day. We stop in Norway to ride The Maelstrom and continue our walk around World Showcase. When we get to Italy , we take a few moments watching some street comedians performing a version of  Taming of The Shrew, using guest “volunteers”.

Street Entertainers in Italy directing guests in Taming of the Shrew
We get to Japan just at our P.S. time and soon settle in for a wonderful meal. When the meal is over we visit the Tin Toy exhibit at the Japanese exhibit. Too many people aren’t even aware that there is an exhibit back there that always has an interesting theme of one kind or another.


According to the schedule, Voices of Liberty and American Vybe have performances in the American pavilion within the next 20 minutes or so. However, when we get there, we find the posted times quite different from those on the hand-out schedule, and we cannot hang out waiting. We head to Test Track where we use our fastpasses to ride.


After Test Track, we decide that we will leave Epcot and head for Downtown Disney, as I still have to buy a nightshirt for Sandy — the only thing she asked of me if I came down. (I would also buy a tee shirt for my son who always has something for me when he comes home after a WDW visit. Last trip it was the polo shirt he won — his second — at Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Play It!) We do two more Epcot attractions (Universe of Energy and Spaceship Earth) and then head off to Downtown Disney.


We purchase the presents and then decided to check out the new Earl of Sandwich shop which recently opened. That was one of the best decisions we made. The sandwiches were delicious, the fresh baked bread was light and wonderful, and the price was unbelievably low considering you are on Disney property. If you have a chance, definitely give it a try.


We returned early to the room since Iris had to be in work at 7 AM the next morning. Of course, since Caribbean Beach Resort is adjacent to Pop Century, it was a fast commute! I had to get up early as well, since I would be leaving my carry-on in her car, and having Mears pick me up at CBR, since Iris would be getting out of work to late for me to make my 4:00 PM flight.

Day 4 

This morning we were awakened at 6 AM by the only wakeup call this trip. At 6:30 , I walk Iris to her car, and place my carry-on — carrying everything but what I have with me for the day — in her car and then return to my room for an hour or two. I plan on and arrive at the Magic Kingdom at 9 AM this day. The Studios will have to wait until next time. My first stop was to be the Main Street Bakery for a small breakfast, but the line was so long, and my time was so short, that I decided to get my OJ someplace else. (I got it at the small stand in Liberty Square directly behind the castle.) Now, it is time to attempt to ride The Haunted Mansion, and the third time is the charm. I walk directly to the door of the foyer and am there with about 8 others, who all appear to be first timers with no knowledge of what is to come. This is always fun. I love watching their reactions through the foyer and stretch room. Even through the ride you can hear their reactions.

From the mansion, I head out through Frontierland, and seem to be drawn to Splash Mountain . I arrive at the entrance and see that the standby wait time is rather small, so into the queue I step. As usual, the ride continues to be one of the best in the parks.



Some happy guests taking the plunge



Going Fishing


It is now time to start heading to the entrance, as to make sure I catch a bus to CBR in time to find Iris and get my carry-on before Mears come to take me to the airport. I had hoped to get a Dole Whip on the way out, but unfortunately the stand was not yet opened, so that will have to wait until the next trip. When I arrived at the train station on Main Street it was still too early to leave, so I bought a box of popcorn and people watched until the time came.


The Mayor
People Watching
Arriving at Customs House I called Iris’s number but she wasn’t at her desk. This wasn’t surprising as it was Thursday, and she was busy getting those going on the Disney Cruise Line ready to go. As it turned out, she was just around the side getting their luggage on the truck. I got the car key from her and got my luggage and then it is all over except waiting for the shuttle. It comes and I get to the airport with time to spare, so I get a bite to eat in the terminal and then wait for the on time flight to board. The flight was an easy 2 hours and 4 minutes (a half hour shorter than the trip down) and thanks to the personal TV’s was over before I knew it. I got my car from long term parking and before I knew it I was back home.
 

Epilogue


This was our second stay at Pop Century and the view from our room was lovely, overlooking the lake and bridge to the Legendary Years section of Pop Century, as of yet unbuilt except for the commercial building.



The Legendary Years - the next section of Pop Century Resort


(Note from 2012: You might be interested in what this spot looks like today. If so click here.)


This trip, while I missed having Sandy with me, was a great trip for me to spend some very quality time alone with Iris. This was the first time we have had a chance to be alone since I first took her down almost 4 years ago for her to start her College Program semester. 

Our next trip, hopefully, will be a 7 day cruise on the Disney Cruise Line in July. We should know soon.