Friday, May 4, 2012

Flashback Friday - Super Soap Weekend 2002



This week's Flashback Friday presents a trip report on a 2002 trip in which my wife spends time at Super Soap Weekend at the (then) Disney/MGM Studios theme park. Thanks to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting this blog hop.





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Prologue and Day 0 (November 8)

Although both of our children are out of school, since my wife is a teacher, we are still subject to school vacations, so our trips are based around those. For the third year in a row, we have taken Veterans Day weekend as one of these trips. Since it is also the anniversary of my Annual Pass, I renew it each year at WDW.

Since we are traveling on Jet Blue for the first time, rather than leaving from Newark Liberty International, which is just 10 minutes from home, we left from JFK, a 40 minute drive under ideal circumstances. However, this day would see an accident combine with rush hour traffic to make for a 90 minute trip with bumper to bumper traffic almost all the way to the airport. However, since we planned for the unexpected, we still arrived in plenty of time. I must say that the Jet Blue experience was all that they said it was. Anytime we fly to WDW we expect a lot of children to be flying as well, but this flight appeared as if it would be full of loud and excited youngsters. However, thanks to the in-flight Direct TV (and headphones), the trip went very well, and the noisy background was all but drowned out. We left JFK and arrived at MCO right on time. Iris had checked into the room earlier in the afternoon, and we had planned to head for Pleasure Island directly from the airport.

As we get onto the highway, Iris gets a call from her old apartment mate, whom she had not seen in about a year. Since we had already been checked into the room, and Iris had taken a few days off and would be with us (in a manner of speaking ... keep reading) for the whole time we were there, we told her to drop us off at PI and go meet her friend.

We dropped into the Jazz Company to listen to a set and have a drink. By the time we had done that, rather than head over to the Comedy Warehouse and the Adventurer's Club as we usually would, we decided to head to the room and get ready for the next day, which for Sandy would be the start of a long weekend.

Day 1

Today starts the ABC Super Soap Weekend at The Disney/MGM Studios, and it was decided that since Sandy wanted to be there, and Iris and I didn't, that today she would go to The Studios and Iris and I would eat our way around World Showcase in Epcot since the Food and Wine Festival was going on. This would be the fourth straight year that we attended the Festival. Saturday was an Early Entry day at The Studios, and Sandy knew that it would be very crowded, so by 7:15 AM she was out of the room and on her way. Well, it seems as if folks had been there from earlier than 6:00 AM, since in order to get autographs for Susan Lucci, Steve Burton, or Vanessa Marcil,  you needed to have a wrist band, and folks started lining up extremely early to get them.

Susan Lucci signing pictures for lucky fans who got wristbands
Most of the other stars didn't require wristbands, but you needed to be prepared to stand on line for upwards of an hour or two in many cases.


Wally Kurth
Robin Christopher
Alden Turner



In the evening a special motorcade with the stars took to the parade route.


 

The day ends with a concert including a number of acts. Sandy is particularly interested in seeing Kurth and Taylor before she ends her day and heads back to the room.

Meanwhile, after sleeping a bit later than Sandy, Iris and I got up about 9 AM and grab a quick breakfast at the AS Sports food court. We grab the Disney Transport bus to Epcot where we plan to spend the day tasting the food available at the many booths of the Food and Wine Festival.



Before we head over to World Showcase, I make a stop at the pin booth and pick up a few pins and then we get fastpasses for Test Track. They are for 2:40 - 3:40 PM which works out very nicely. That gives us a chance to have "lunch", take a break back in Future World before heading back to the Festival for "dinner". As it turns out, even with a whole day, inclusing a break, we will need yet a second day to try all the booths that we want. Over 25 booths are there this year, which seems to be much better represented than last year's Festival.

Although it is November, and usually quite a bit cooler, the weather is more like a summer day, hot and humid. With that in mind, Iris can't wait to get to the first booth, and as in years past, get her watermelon water from the Mexico booth.

Getting Mexican food and drink

We continued to work our way around clockwise, tasting and sharing dishes, wines and beers offered by the varying countries - or areas of the world - participating in this year's Festival.

In addition to the booths, there were two special areas built to show participants. The first was South Africa, where, not only could you taste South African food and drink, but crafts as well.

 South Africa

Spain - a country in negotiation with The Disney Company to have a permanent pavilion in World Showcase - had a nice area set up where not only could you visit the food booth, but see the history of Sherry, Olives (with a taste of either olives or bread and olive oil) as well as some of the culture of the Andalusia area of Spain, along with a place to sit and enjoy your culinary finds.

The Spanish Pavilion
 Of course, there were many other activities going on such as a booth where you could hear about the history of brewing and of Sam Adams Beer, and a number of cooking and wine history/appreciation/tasting seminars.

A cooking demonstration
The history of winemaking seminar

A wine tasting seminar
Of course, you can always buy some of the wines available for tasting at the numerous booths at the appropriate booth around the path.

Iris picking out a bottle of ice wine for later consumption
 Eventually, not quite halfway around World Showcase, we reach the point where we can no longer think of eating any more, and our fastpass window is about to open, so we grab the boat across the lagoon and head to Test Track. Usually we use the single rider line, but with our fastpasses, we go almost immediately to the preshow area and very quickly we are on the ride.

Now, while all the "glamorous" drinking is going on over in World Showcase, we decide we need some non-alcoholic drinks to quench our thirst, so we head to Ice Station Cool and do just that.

The infamous Beverly is second from the right
We then took some time with the attractions in Future World such as Journey into Your Imagination starring Figment, Innoventions and Spaceship Earth. By this time we are getting our second wind, as it were, and are ready to start back to finish the circuit around World Showcase and the Food and Wine Festival. This year, each evening at the outdoor theater by The American Adventure, Disney presented a musical act, and while we were there, we saw The Fifth Dimension.

The Fifth Dimension
Finally - after a full first day, we head back to the room, where Sandy had just returned as well, and get ready for the next day.

Day 2

Although this is not an Early Entry day at The Studios, Sandy gets there just as early as the day before so that she misses out on nothing that is available. Of particular importance is the Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Play It! games with the soap opera stars and hosted by current show host, Meredith Vieras. Today Iris and I will meet her for a little while so she can buy some souvenirs using Iris's discount. However, Iris and I will not be getting there quite as early, and as we did the day before, got up at a more reasonable hour and grabbed a fast breakfast at the food court.

When Iris and I get the the park, we head to the Millionaire fastpass area to see if any fastpasses are still available. Today, you will need a fastpass to get into the attraction, as there will be no standby queue. It turns out that there are indeed fastpasses left, but only for the 12:45 show featuring Port Charles. Hopefully, Sandy had gotten there in time this morning to get the passes for the 2:30 General Hospital game she was planning on seeing. We find out later that she had.

We try calling her on her cell phone, but she was in a talk show with some of the stars, and had her phone off, so Iris and I went on The Great Movie Ride.



When we finish with The Great Movie Ride, my cell phone has a voice message from Sandy, and we finally do connect. She buys a few things and we spend a brief time together. We then decide that since Sandy has many things that she still wants to do, and we only have the WWTBAMPI! show to see, that we will split up once again. We will meet again later that evening at The Polynesian where we will have dinner at 'Ohana.

When we get into the show studio, we find it set up with 3 hot seats - one for the usual contestant from the audience, as usual, and two for the 2 Port Charles stars who will help those contestants. At one point I was number two on the fastest finger list, but I am happy that the person who was number one was a Port Charles fan and being there with them meant something to him. The other thing that was different, was that instead of the usual WDW host(s), these shows were hosted by Meredith Vieras, who is the current host of the syndicated version of the show. (Just a few weeks ago, I was a call a friend lifeline for a friend of mine who was a contestant on the syndicated show.)

Note the THREE hot seats!
Once we were finished with the show, Iris and I decide to have lunch - at Beaches and Cream in The Beach Club, and then head to The Magic Kingdom. As we leave The Studios, I have some business to take care of at the ticket booth - I renewed my Annual Pass. We then headed to the boat for the Beach Club.

After a great lunch - as always at Beaches and Cream - we headed to The Magic Kingdom where I started in my traditional manner by going through The Haunted Mansion. When we came out, Iris and I stopped and Mme. Leota's wagon for some gifts for my son, Bobby, who worked at the Haunted Mansion while on the college program and again the following winter break.

Before we knew it, the time had come to head towards the monorail and meet Sandy at 'Ohana. Iris had made the PS for 6:45 PM so that we could watch the MK fireworks from wither the restaurant or the lounge. When we got there, Sandy had already arrived, and was finishing her Strawberry Daiquiri. We get called rather quickly, and are already seated when the lights go down and the fireworks theme begins to play. Great timing. And the meal is a good as always. Gotta love the pineapple in caramel for dessert!

Before finishing the day, we decide to head over to Downtown Disney and The Marketplace to see Once Upon a Toy and Pin Traders. Naturally we buy quite a few pins, and I create a make your own pin among the ones I buy. Unlimited funds would be nice, but I do manage to keep my purchases within limits. Iris adds a Grand Floridian pin to her collection of areas in which she has worked, along with two new eeyore pins - all on good old dad's bill. (That's alright, her discount this weekend had more than made up for what I have spent on her.) We also make a few purchases at Once Upon a Toy and then head back to the room.

Day 3 (November 11)

Finally, a day in which we we all be together. In fact, not only will the three of us be together today, but we will be meeting my parents, who have been down in Florida for a little over a week now. (They live only a few miles from me at home during the warm months, and down in Florida when the weather turns cold up north.) Since they have never experienced the Food and Wine Festival, and Sandy wasn't with us during our first trip around World Showcase, we meet this morning in Epcot. My parents show up, as scheduled, just before 11:00 AM so we head over to Mexico and start the trip. Iris and I have a few specific targets which we didn't get to on Saturday, and by the time it was late afternoon, being an unusually hot and humid day for this late in the year, we had all eaten and drunk our fill, and my parents had to head back home. We decide to head back to Future World to catch a few attractions, as we did the other day, and then head back to the room for a break, naps and showers prior to heading out to Pleasure Island for the night.

When we arrive at PI we make our usual first stop at the Jazz Company, where there is a female singer/pianist. We listen to one set, which Sandy and I enjoy, before heading over to the Comedy Warehouse. I have to admit, however, that this was a very disappointing performance. Almost the entire cast were new and unfamiliar to us, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the improv just did not work during this show.

Our next stop is the Adventurer's Club and walked in on a New Member Induction ceremony. Things were going well here, but since it was approaching midnight, all the "show" stopped for about 20 minutes until the "celebration" was over. However, the day and the heat had taken their toll on all of us, so rather than coming back (or waiting) for the next library show, we decided to call it a day.

Day 4 (November 12)

This will be our last day here, but since our flight from MCO isn't until 7:30 PM, it will be, for the most part, a full day. We start the day at the usual time and by the time showers are taken and everyone is dressed, we are also packed. The luggage goes back to Iris's car and we are out of the room and head to The Wilderness Lodge for breakfast. Three skillet breakfasts later, we take the boat over to The Magic Kingdom.

It was supposed to be a rainy day today, with a cold front coming through, bringing the temperatures way down, but the front is moving slower than expected, and the day is even hotter and more humid than the day before. This reminds me why we don't usually come here during the summer, but this time of year is usually more comfortable.

Of course, you know that I would start my day at The Haunted Mansion. Since Iris and I had been here two days ago, we let Sandy decide where we would go, and not surprisingly, our next stop would be Fantasyland. While this was not a school holiday any longer (Sandy had taken one day extra), it was still quite crowded and full of school-age children. Fantasyland was packed, as were the popular dark rides in this land. Even It's a Small World had a ten minute queue ... quite unusual. We decide to wait those ten minutes and in minutes are listen to the best known theme song in any Disney attraction. The boats back up as we approach the unload area - all the way to the beginning of the white room. Luckily (?) I was quite knocked out from the heat, and enjoyed the air conditioning, and may even have fallen asleep for a bit.

Sandy and Iris next decide to get fastpasses for Space Mountain, and I decide to pass this time, so I wait while they get the fastpasses and then we take a leisurely spin on The Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) (Peoplemover). At that point we decide to sit at The Lunching Pad and have a few frozen drinks, and wait until the fastpass window opens, about fifteen minutes to go. Before they head back to Space Mountain, we get fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear, which is only about 40 minutes from that point in time. Sandy and Iris head over to Space Mountain, while I wait, finishing my drink and people watching. While I am sitting there, Push, the talking, walking trashcan made an appearance, and I enjoyed watching the other guests reacting to Push.


When they come back, we still have a little time until our next fastpass window opens, and we see that there is no wait whatsoever for Alien Encounter, so we head that way. When we come out we head into Buzz - always a fun attraction.

By this time, it is coming up on 3:00 PM and Sandy wants to see the parade, so we grab a spot near the Plaza Restaurant and watch it. While we wait, Iris develops a bad headache, so we head over to First Aid which is nearby and she gets something for it. Now it is starting to creep up to the time that we will be wanting to leave the park and head back to get the car to leave for the airport, so we decide to get something to eat at The Plaza Pavilion - one of Iris and my favorite fast food locations - before we go.

It's finally time to head out and start the trip home. We can see the sky is just starting to cloud over, and we know the cold front we had been expecting all day, along with the rain is getting closer. In fact, just before we get to the airport, we notice a few raindrops on the windshield. We got through ticketing and security without a hitch, although my money clip, which did not set off the metal detector at JFK did set it off at MCO and I got wanded, but that seems to be almost a foregone conclusion anytime I fly these days. The aircraft arrived a few minutes late into MCO, but once it was ready to be boarded, there was a very obvious immediacy to the boarding process. Eventually the Captain came on the speaker to try to get everyone settled as fast as possible. You could see the rain and the lightning in the distance, and he was sure that if we didn't get into the air very soon, we would be stuck on the ground when the airport closed due to weather. Finally everyone settled into their seats and we were off. After that it was an uneventful flight, arrivng at JFK on time, where Bobby met us and drove us home.

It was a short trip, but certainly enough to hold us until our next trip - probably in February.