May 10, 2007


Welcome to our Disney Trip Report!

The good news is that we've included almost every little detail of our trip here for you to enjoy.

The bad news is that stupid blogger formatting keeps this thing in reverse chronological order.

I encourage you to start from the beginning... er... the end...

For easier viewing, you can manually click on the days in our Trip Archives on the right sidebar. Maybe soon I'll figure out some fancy code that will automatically flip this thing around.


Pop Century

Apr 25, 2007

Homeward Bound

In my original itinerary, I had planned for us to spend our last morning in one of the parks. But in my original itinerary, I hadn't really accounted for both of us getting SICK during our trip.

The last few days of our stay at Disney have been pretty uncomfortable, but I'm glad they came at the end of the trip, rather than the beginning.

Needless to say, we spent our last morning in bed, rather than in the parks. On top of our sinus problems, we were a bit leery of taking the buses into the parks and were worried about getting checked out and dropping the fridge of for the next Swap participant, and making sure we were back at POP in plenty of time to catch our Magical Express bus.

In retrospect, I wish I'd gone with Carrie's preference of leaving on an earlier flight (so we wouldn't get home at 9pm). But I honestly thought we'd have plenty of time to hang out before we left.

Check-out was at 11am and after leaving our room, we took our bags and the fridge to the front, then headed to the food court to write postcards and eat lunch. We used up the last of our counter service credits and found that we still had 4 snack credits to use. I wanted to get some more of the tasty gummy candies from Goofy's Candy Company but there weren't any available in the food court or gift shop, so we settled for some turkey jerky for me, a few boxes of cookies (for the kids back home), and some cookies for Carrie. Here is a picture of Carrie's lunch from the POP food court, some sort of mediterranean chicken flatbread and fruit:

I also had some money left on my Disney Rewards card, so I wandered around in the POP gift shop and settled on a few more souvenirs to take home.

We had a few minutes left before we were supposed to meet for the bus, so I ran outside and took some pictures of POP Century (which I had neglected to do before).

We got out to the bus stop and there were about four or five other families waiting. Luckily, we were able to snag a bench.

The bus was a little bit later than we thought it would be, but once we got on, it was straight to the airport. They showed another little movie on the way back which I thought was funny since it was talking about all the new upcoming rides they were working on like... "Expedition Everest."

It was just a little outdated... but still helped to pass the time and we were at the airport before we knew it.

Security is just crazy in Orlando and there were so many people trying to file through the security checkpoints that I was suddenly very glad that the ME bus got us to the airport so early. We still had a bit of a wait before we got on our short flight to Miami, and I enjoyed a pretzel with processed cheese while I waited. The flight to Miami was crowded and kind of sucky. I didn't have window to look out which made me kind of sick. My sinus problems didn't help and I felt incredibly ill.

In Miami, we had another long layover and we ate some gross Chinese food and passed the time with knitting and staring off into space. At one point, I attempted to sleep under Carrie's legs on the yucky carpeted floor of the airport but deemed it too sketchy and uncomfortable and moved back up into the chair.

The flight to St. Louis was better but a little more turbulent. We had another person sharing our row this time but thankfully he wasn't loud or smelly and didn't try to talk to us. We watched episodes of The Office on the laptop and the time passed pretty quickly. The next thing we knew, we were grabbing our bags off the luggage carousel, hopping on the MetroLink and homeward bound.

Apr 24, 2007

California Grill

Sorry again for the poor lighting! Darn these fancy restaurants and their mood lighting. Dimming the lights for the fireworks is nice, but not so much for taking pictures. Oh well.

Here is a view of the lounge area. It was very busy and people were fighting for the precious seating.

Here's the even busier bar.

We had a while to wait so I stepped out on the scary observation deck and snapped a few photos of MK.

This is Carrie's sushi appetizer, the Spicy Sensation.

My Goat Cheese Ravioli

Carrie's Belle Rouge Chicken

Pork Tenderloin

Carrie enjoying her dessert and a rare cup of coffee.

Carrie's Butterscotch Buzz Dessert

Strawberries and Creme Dessert

Day Five: Keys to the Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon (Porkchop)

This morning we got up early and headed over to the Magic Kingdom for our 8:30am Keys to the Kingdom tour.

The KTTK tour is a walking tour through the Magic Kingdom that lasts about five hours and costs $60. It is only open to those over the age of 16, so we enjoyed a nice morning without kids hanging around.

Here's me in front of an empty Main Street USA with Roy Disney and Minnie:

And here is Carrie before the tour:

We met at City Hall 15 minutes before the tour to check in, get audio headsets, and place our lunch order.

Claire was our tour guide and she was fantastic! At first, I was somewhat disappointed when I found out that Matthew wouldn't be our guide, as I'd heard so many good things about him. But now I can't imagine the tour without Claire. It was great and we were both sad when the tour came to a close.

I won't spill any of the secrets, but we basically just walked down Main Street USA, headed over to Adventureland and rode on Pirates of the Caribbean, visited Frontierland and Liberty Square. We went backstage and saw the trash system and reservoir for Splash Mountain and also went down into the Utilidors under the park. For lunch we ate in a private dining room at the Columbia Harbour House. Our lunch was good and we were seated with the tour guide and another CM who was training for the tour. My favorite part was seeing a video clip about the laundry facilities for Walt Disney World. It's incredible. Also, when down in the utilidors I caught a glimpse of the Pin Replenishment counter. It was pretty neat.

We had taken our swimming suits with us to MK so that we could head to Typhoon Lagoon immediately after the tour. To catch the bus to Typhoon Lagoon, we walked to the Contemporary Hotel, then took a Downtown Disney bus. The bus took a while to come and it was around 3:00 before we finally arrived at TL and got our swimming gear on.

Our first stop was the Crush n' Gusher watercoaster ride and it was a great way to get soaked right off the bat! We also tried one of the body slides, the family raft ride, and another single rider tube slide. We got waffle cones and dried off a bit in the sun before going back to POP to get ready for dinner.

We got all prettied up and returned to the Magic Kingdom to catch a monorail to the Contemporary. I was going to make Carrie walk over there again until she revealed that she'd never been on the monorail before! For some reason I just assumed that she'd been on one before. The ride to the Contemporary from MK is short, but I'm glad Carrie got to experience the monorail. I guess when you're in your late twenties, it's not quite as exciting as when you're a little kid, but oh well.

We got to the Californa Grill early and were seated about 15 or 20 minutes after we arrived. I was hoping for a seat on the MK side of the restaurant so that we could see the fireworks better, but we were seated in the back with a obstructed view. We still opted to remain at our table during the fireworks while everyone else ran out onto the observation deck.

Our waiter's name was Walter and he was spectacular. Dinner was very good as well and one of my favorites of the trip. I enjoyed the Goat Cheese Ravioli, Pork Tenderloin, and Strawberries and Creme dessert. Or as Walter put it, "Signature dish on top of signature dish."

Getting back to the hotel after dinner proved to be a challenge. They wouldn't let us on the monorail to go to MK or Epcot because they said no more resort buses were running from the parks (around 10pm). So we had to wait for a bus to Downtown Disney and then transfer to a bus to POP. It took nearly two hours for us to get home after dinner. I was very frustrated but tried not to get too angry. Lots of other folks on the bus were really angry about the situation, especially after we had to stop and let two weelchairs on! The crowd grew more and more angry as we headed to Downtown Disney, and our bus driver, Maurice (who looked like Lando Calrissian), pacified the crowd with singing on the bus speaker. He was great and made everyone laugh and cheer up a little bit.

All in all, it was a great day. I loved the tour and I loved the waterpark and I loved my dinner and Lando's singing. We're not really sure what we're going to do tomorrow. The Magical Express bus is coming at 1:15pm, so that doesn't give us a lot of time to work with in the morning.

Apr 23, 2007

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano

Exterior view of Mama Melrose's

Inside Mama Melrose's

Tomatoes and Mozzarella Appetizer

Bruschetta Appetizer

Some sorta chicken flatbread

Pork Marsala with Mushroom Risotto


Warm Chocolate Cake with Raspberries

Day Four: Disney-MGM Studios (Porkchop)

This morning, all of the excitement of our Disney vacation hit us like a ton of bricks. When the wake-up call jolted me out of bed at 6:45am, it felt more like a dreaded workday than a fun vacation day. If I were at home I would’ve hit the snooze button. Instead, I just set the alarm for 8:45 and went back to sleep.

I don’t know what it was about today. Maybe those three early mornings and late nights at the parks finally caught up with us. Or maybe it was the sinus congestion (me) and sinus drainage (Carrie) that is sapping our strength. Or maybe… just maybe… it was the fact that we were headed to Disney-MGM Studios today. Maybe I was just trying to avoid going on Tower of Terror just a little bit longer.

Yes… the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The first few times I was at MGM after it opened, the rest of my family was uninterested and I was able to avoid the ride without really thinking about it. The last time I went, I was able to use the excuse of keeping an eye on my niece while my brother and his wife rode. But this trip, I knew it was finally time to face my fear of falling and get on ToT.

I am definitely not the biggest fan of falling rides. I don’t know if something traumatic happened when I was a baby or something. Maybe my Dad dropped me at some point. Normally, I avoid bigger coasters with sizable drops. I scream like a little girl during the little drops in Space Mountain and I get shaky-nervous before Splash Mountain. But Tower of Terror is a different beast. The whole point of the ride is that it drops you.

I’m not sure what convinced me that I finally needed to go on Tower of Terror but when we got to the park today, that was the first thing I headed for.

After sleeping in and eating breakfast, we rolled into the park around 11:00 this morning. The crowds were starting to get heavier and we decided to get a Fast Pass for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before tackling the 30 minute standby wait at Tower of Terror.

When we finally snaked into the building I had watched several dozen groups go up and scream their way down the elevator shaft. My heart was beating fast, but I wasn’t as sickly nervous as I thought I’d be. I think it helped that I watched a few versions of the ride on YouTube. It helped me a bit to know what was going to happen and at what point the big drop would take place. Here's a picture of me while I was waiting in line for the ride:

I was surprised how quickly the cue for the drop came. I clutched the handles and closed my eyes and off we went. Up and down several times before we finally rested at the bottom and the elevator door opened. It all happened so quickly that I barely had time to feel bad during the drops. Honestly, they didn’t seem that bad. Dare I say that it was almost…. fun?

Here's a picture of the triumphant Porkchop after ToT:

Carrie was a little disappointed with the tame nature of our drop sequence, but I thought it was perfect for my first ride. When we got to the gift shop, I finally got to buy myself a Tower of Terror pin as a reward for my accomplishment. It’s a pin of the elevator with little doors that slide open and Stitch dressed as a bellhop inside.

At some point we stopped in at the ABC Comissary and shared the Curry Chicken bowl and some fruit.

In addition to food, they also had some stuff from LOST on display there:

Because of our late arrival at the parks, we were pretty much screwed for the rest of the day in terms of lines and waits. We tried to stick to the UG itinerary, but there were many things that we either didn’t care to do or didn’t have time to do. Neither of us had seen the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, so we made that a priority.

We also took Carrie’s favorite Backlot Tour and rode on the Great Movie Ride. After ToT, we used our Fast Passes on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. We were in the very last seats in the limo and it was a rough ride! Both of our heads hurt afterward and I think it detracted a bit from the excitement of Carrie’s first RnRC ride.

The sun was blazing today with no clouds in sight and we got fairly hot and uncomfortable in the shadeless streets of the Studios. We were desperate for some sort of frozen drink and wandered around until we found a frozen lemonade stand. With our drinks in hand, we hurried back to The Muppet 3D Show which let out just in time for our 5:40 ADR at Mama Melrose’s.

The dinner at Mama Melrose’s was quick and tasty, but I was so worried about getting an upset stomach that I wasn’t able to enjoy my meal as much as I would have liked. I had the bruschetta for an appetizer, the chicken flatbread for dinner, and the spumoni for dessert. By the time dinner was over, we were able to check out a few shops before getting our seats for the 8:30 Fantasmic show.

We had used the Fantasmic Dining package for dinner and got a voucher to get reserved seats at the first show of the evening. While the seats were on the far right side of the theater, I thought they were pretty good. We were about six rows back and had a good view of the characters as they came by on their boats.

The only bad thing about the show was the swarms of gnats circulating through the crowd. It wasn't pleasant.

They were having Extra Magic Hours at MGM tonight, but we opted to leave after Fantasmic ended. Tomorrow morning we have our Keys to the Kingdom tour and we don’t have the option of sleeping in late! I’m excited for the tour and for the possibility of going to Typhoon Lagoon in the afternoon.