This queen that served us breakfast this morning walked like he couldn't possibly care less about living, much less about customer service. He put our silverware down on the table and walked away as he asked, "Do you know what you want yet?"
My breakfast, of three pancakes, was pretty decent. Joe got grits and a side order of toast, which was... well I don't even want to describe it. Let's just say it wasn't very appetizing.
We were happy to check out, and be done with the place.
We got the most incredibly boring, prejudiced, tour-guide-wannabe, and couldn't-let-go-of-the-past cab driver in history to take us back to the airport, where we were to pick up the Disney Magical Express to take us to our resort on the Disney property.
The man's first comments were: "I'm going to go through downtown, as the basket at the toll both for the toll road is jammed, and I've already got enough tickets for going through those things when it won't take my money. Kids like to stuff tissues down in that basket. This area is all black."
It was one of those situations where you're too stunned to respond with the million things you think of after the fact.
As we proceeded through downtown at a glacial pace—catching just about every light red, of which there were many, my blood pressure began to rise as I watched the meter roll, and listened to this man drone on and on about downtown Orlando real estate and politics.
"This building right here that they're building? They had to stop it. The builder is $20 million in debt. That one over there? Foreclosed. $315 million in debt.
"See that building over there? That one was used in the movie Lethal Weapon 3. You see that one? Well, it was actually the building that was previously in its place. They wanted to implode it to put up this one. So they used that in a scene, and the movie company paid the city $50,000 to let them implode it instead of the city having to do it themselves.
"This area over here? 30 years ago, this used to be a field.
"They make a lot of movies down here. I was actually in one." He named some movie that I'd never heard of, but Joe had. "Yeah, they needed some extras in it—some cab drivers, actually. So I got to sit in my cab, just sit there in the background of this scene. Not bad work, just sitting there, drinking some coffee, for $40 an hour. I loved it."
When we finally got out of the downtown area, I made a note of the $8.00 on the meter so far that we'd paid for our unsolicited tour, and was so ready to subtract that out if this ride ended up being any more than the $34.00 we'd paid yesterday to travel between the same two points in the opposite direction using the toll road.
After a little while, he says, "This here? 30 years ago, this is what Orlando looked like." It was farm land with a deteriorating barn on it, even. Then we get to another area, "This all used to be swamp 30 years ago; see those two little retaining pools? That's all that's left of the swamp."
Just about to scream, "WHATEVER!!! HOW FAR ARE WE FROM THE FUCKING AIRPORT?" I saw a sign for the rental cars, and at the next turn a sign that said, "Orlando International Airport: 1 1/4 miles. I looked at the meter and it said, "$31.25." Lucky for him.
We boarded the Disney Magical Express, which took us to our resort, Port Orleans Riverside, where we "returned to the land of the living," or at least, we were to find out when we were able to check in later in the day, to towels with thread counts in the three digits.
As always, everything's top notch at Disney, including our Walt Disney World Key to the World, which had everything on it from: our room key; to our tickets into Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios, Epcot and The Magic Kingdom; access to the "Fast Pass" line options throughout the park; and charging anything throughout the park back to our credit card.
After check-in, we headed to Animal Kingdom, where Joe's sister Kathy and her husband Al were. They were either seeing a show or riding a ride, so we stopped at a BBQ place on the way in and had lunch.
After that, we got in line for the Primeval Whirl, and while we were in the line, they arrived and we waved to them until we could get through the ride.
Joe and I ended up riding with a father and his son on this ride, and our combined weights really put the whirl in Primeval Whirl. We whipped around in circles like crazy on the last half of that little coaster.
The rain became progressively worse and annoying as the day went on.
Next, we rode the Dinosaur, which thankfully was indoors.
We worked our way up into the Asia section of the Animal Kingdom, intending our first stop to be a ride on Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, yet another roller coaster ride, and one Joe's niece Allie had ridden earlier and absolutely insisted we ride.
Unfortunately, by this time the rain was coming down too hard to wait in a line that was projected at about an hour, so we moved on, making our way over into the Africa area, where we intended to ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride.
This ride was in an open-sided safari vehicle, so the rain was kept off our heads at least. I took several pictures in here, none of which turned out very well. This one did:
I wasn't overly impressed with this "ride," as to me, it was just like taking a ride through the Asheboro Zoo or something. I think Disney should stick to creating "magic"—we have enough reality.
Exiting Animal Kingdom, I snapped this picture of some kind of parrot or macaw or something:
While, Joe, Kathy, and Al made their way to Epcot, I made a stop back by our resort to check in and have our bags brought up to our room, mostly because it was freezing and wet, and I wanted my jacket with my hood on it.
When I eventually arrived at Epcot, I found them in front of the Catina de San Angel in Mexico, where they had bought margaritas for themselves.
We moved around the Epcot World Showcase, passed Norway, and made a stop in China, where we watched the Circle-Vision 360 film, Reflections of China. I love those 360° movies. Kathy gets motion sickness, but she did alright on this.
Our next stop around the World Showcase was Germany, where we stopped at Sommerfest and enjoyed some German beer (Beck's) and split two huge soft pretzels between the four of us.
We used the bathrooms in the U.S. section of the World Showcase, where we watched a long, dramatic parade of physicians—there for some kind of conference—march into the American Adventure attraction there. We, ourselves, only used the restrooms.
We rode two rides in Epcot, the first being Soarin', which is a new ride about which there is a lot of hubbub. It was very, very cool, basically hang-gliding over California, complete with the smell of oranges as you pass over the orange groves. Kathy joined us on this ride, and was thrilled that she didn't get sick on it.
The last ride we—just Joe and I—did here in Epcot was Test Track, and it was billed as "the longest, fastest attraction in Disney history." I just don't buy it. Joe and I were both disappointed in this ride, not because it was bad, but because it certainly didn't live up to that hype.
We made our way to a meeting point with Amy and Allie and the band kids to enjoy Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which is the laser and fireworks show over the World Showcase every evening.
I haven't mentioned this in my trip so far, but the whole reason Joe and I are here this weekend is because the marching band of the school his two nieces attend was invited to march in the "pre-parade" down Main Street U.S.A. in The Magic Kingdom tomorrow. His one niece, Allie, plays the sax, and his other niece, Amy, is the Drum Major!
Joe's sister Kathy and her husband Al are Amy and Allie's parents, and they all rode down from Albion, Pennsylvania on a bus with the other 70 or so kids in the band. Kathy and Al are not chaperones this year, however, so they are enjoying an "empty nest" version of the trip this year. (They've been chaperones on previous years' trips.)
With the ending of the laser and fireworks show, we headed back to our respective Disney resorts. Kathy and Al (and the band) are staying in the Caribbean Beach resort, and as I mentioned, Joe and I are in the Port Orleans Riverside resort.