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May 8th, 2009

Today we started our day at Animal Kingdom, where our first destination was to the Expedition Everest attraction. This roller coaster was closed when I was here in January of 2008, so I was excited about riding something new.

We had about a 40-minute wait for this ride, as we decided not to do the FastPass option, but instead wait through the regular line. It turned out to actually be kind of interesting as they had the line winding through a "Yeti Museum," which detailed the many theories about "Big Foot/Abominable Snowman" both in terms of lore and scientific attempts to verify its existence.

At the entrance of the museum they had a lot of mittens and gloves hanging talking about the temperatures and sharing how people had to dress to brave the expeditions. I said to Robert after seeing them, "No she dih-ent put on a mit-ent."

And then about halfway through the 40-minute wait, "Daddy are we there Yeti?"

Badumpbump. We were here for another 20 minutes folks, or until the line ends, whichever comes first.


This roller coaster, Expedition Everest (←video of ride) far exceeded my expectations, and instantly replaced Rock 'n' Roller coaster as my favorite roller coast across all four theme parks.

The only other attraction we went on in Animal Kingdom was the Kilimanjaro Safaris, which I was hesitant to go on as when I went with Joe last January it was just "all right."

As it turned out, though, Robert seemed to enjoy it, and personally I enjoyed it a lot more going through it without a camera. The last time, I was so intent on spotting animals and snapping pictures of them that I really didn't get to enjoy it like I did this time.



We took the bus over to Epcot, where we first went on Spaceship Earth, which wasn't on "my list," but turned out to be pretty cool. At the very beginning, the computer screen in the little car we were riding in asked us where we were from, and then told us to look up at a monitor we were passing by to make sure our faces showed up in a certain spot. We pressed the touch screen to indicate that they did.

At the end of the ride, the monitor said that it wanted to give us a glimpse into our future, following with several questions about the lifestyle we envisioned living ("gay" wasn't one of them), and after we entered the information, it presented a vision of our future with cartoonish characters—not unlike George Jetson—and with our faces set on top of the bodies. The thing I loved most about mine was how thin my body was.

Next, we attended Ellen's Energy Adventure. I just love Ellen. Her deadpan humor, her facial expressions, her timing; it's all brilliant to me. This attraction started off with her making it obvious how little she knew—or cared—about energy until she met Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and then had a nightmare about being on Jeopardy, playing against her nemesis in college (whom she called "Stupid Judy," and as eventually comes out, used to call her "Stupid Ellen"). The third contestant, who is Albert Einstein, never answers any questions so ends up with a score of zero. The coup de grâce of the dream was that all the categories had something to do with various kinds, or uses, of energy.

Next on the agenda was lunch, so we made our way out to the World ShowPlace, which is the circular part of Epcot with areas the represent various locations around the world, each including a little bit about their culture and usually some food or drink place associated with the country.

We were in the mood for Fish & Chips, so we headed to the United Kingdom section, where we had just that at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. The outside seating area there was small, and two ladies asked to join our table for four. They were there together, but one of them was from Chicago and the other one from there (somewhere in Florida).

After lunch, we headed over to the China section, as I wanted to see the China CircleVision 360° again, since I'd been to China since seeing it last in January of '08. I didn't remember that Guilin, the "odd city out" (of the cities I visited: Beijing, Guilin, and Shanghai) was also featured in the film. In fact, the very Li River down which I traveled was in it. Cool!

One of my Li River pics:

We then left the World ShowPlace area, and went back into the ride attractions area, our first stop being to see "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience," which I'd seen before, but always enjoy. 3-D has come a long way, but it's still not as good as it might be some day, I would hope.

Our last attraction was Soarin', which promised a 70-minute wait, but delivered in 50 minutes instead. Needless to say, we were pleased.

I sat next to a young girl who just started working at Disney a month ago. She had her uniform on; that's how I knew she was an employee.

"Hi," I said, "Where are you from?" I asked, as I couldn't see her badge. All of the "cast" badges say where they're from.

"Mexico," she replied. To which the lady sitting all the way on the other side of Robert [Disney employee, me, Robert, lady] asked, "Where in Mexico? Mexico's a pretty big place," she said more at me than the girl, as if to say, "You're going to be satisfied with 'Mexico' as an answer?"

I just ignored her, but did think about a girl I used to work with that everyone called, "KIA"—our acronym for "know it all."

During one part of the ride, we "soared" over Disney and the employee just squealed with delight at one point yelling, "That's where I work!" So cute.

On our way out of Epcot, we treated ourselves to a most delicious ice cream cone—both choosing the Dulce de Leche in a sugar cone.



We decided to take the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom, since Robert had never been on it, and as we waited for its arrival, a lady with her family waiting next to us was on her cell phone, and I heard her say, "Yeah. We've had a great day. We just ate our way around world," obviously referring to the World ShowPlace. We got a chuckle out of that.

We got off the monorail at what we thought was the Magic Kingdom, but it turned out to be the Transfer Station, where we were supposed to switch to a different monorail train to get to the Magic Kingdom, but didn't realize it.

Not finding the buses (because we weren't where we thought we were), I went up to the Transportation Information window and my conversation with the guy there went like this:

"How do we get a bus back to our resort? We're staying at Port Orleans—French Quarter."

To which he replied, "There are no buses to the resorts from here. You have to get them from the Magic Kingdom. You can take..."

"Aren't we at the Magic Kingdom?" I interrupted.

"No, you're at the Transfer Station. If you wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom, you were suppose to transfer up there to the other monorail," he said.

"Oh, darn!" I interjected.

He continued, "So to get to the Magic Kingdom from here, you..."

Me, interrupting again, "How 'bout we take the monorail over to Animal Kingdom and catch the Port Orleans bus there? I'm familiar with that bus depot, and I know the our bus departs from station 14."

He smiled and politely said, "Animal Kingdom is closed now. They close at 5:00 today."

To which I replied, smiling, "Okay, I'm ready to listen to you now."

He nodded and smiled, exuding all the patience in the world: "Good. I knew we'd get there eventually." And then he continued. "You can go right through there and catch the Riverboat over to the Magic Kingdom, and then catch the bus to Port Orleans from there. Line 6 if for The French Quarter."

"That's perfect! We've been wanting to ride the boat!" I said, and off we went.

The boat ride was nice, but we had a somewhat long wait for a bus once we got to the depot area. There were two couples in line—one on either side of us—one from Dallas, and the other from Massachusetts. The couple from Dallas were ahead of us, and actually the first people in line, and they had been there longer than they'd wanted to be. The six of us exchanged pleasantries until our collective ride finally arrived.



After a nice nap, at about 8:30, Robert and I went in search for dinner. We'd decided to go to the sister Port Orleans resort, Riverside, to check out their dining area, which I knew was bigger from my stay there with Joe last January, and to see if the bar was festive for a possible drink or two.

Though it's the "sister resort," it's a bit of a walk, so we went to check on a bus to take us over there. There was no one else waiting for the next bus that pulled up to let some people off, and I asked the driver, "Are you going to stop by Riverside on your way out?"

"No, I don't stop there," he said.

"Oh darn. We want to go over there for dinner, but I have a bad knee and I don't want to walk."

In classic Disney guest service style, he said, "Get on. I'll drop you off over there."

On the way into the dining area, we passed the bar, where the ragtime piano player, who turned out to be the same guy who was there back in January of '08, was going to town. He really knows how to work a crowd. Job security.

We had a great dinner of the "pasta of the day," which was a Ziti Pasta with Ground Beef dish. It came with a slice of garlic bread, and it was both filling and delicious.

We took a boat ride back, on which there was only one other couple and the "captain," whose name was Donna. Since the boat continued on to downtown after stopping by our resort, I asked her how long it would take if we stayed on just to ride by downtown to see it from the marina, and then back to Riverside and again to the French Quarter.

"That'll be about an hour round trip, but there are lines to get on the boat from downtown to come back, and you'll have to get off and get in the back of the line to re-board.

We decided that would take too long and be too much drama so we just went to the next stop, which was our resort. At the end of telling me that, Donna was looking up over my head, and when I walked away she got out a broom while saying, "You almost had a spider drop down on your head."

When we got to our resort, which was about a five-minute ride, she seemed to have a little trouble pulling into the dock, and we joked about her being, "Donna the Dock Destroyer"—imagining her monthly performance review. "Donna, honey, that's four docks this month."

She put the boat in reverse and revved up the engine, but it wouldn't go back any further. Then she said, "Oh, this is the French Quarter dock."

I thought, "Well it used to be."

That's when she realized that there wasn't any "further back" to go, as she was already in place. "I didn't recognize it, because the guy that's supposed to be standing here to meet the boat isn't here. He's late." Then she added, "But I guess I shouldn't be surprised—since it's my husband."



Back at our room, I added some last notes to today's blog entry, while Robert scoped out a loose plan for our third, and final, day of magic.

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