Or How I Single Handedly Almost Ruined My Trip
So I'm sitting at work a couple weeks back, minding my own business, when a co-worker who's also a Disney freak runs in and points me to the Airtran website where the budget carrier was promising to take me from Dallas to Orlando for $89 each way! I hadn't really planned on a spring trip, as I was gonna go all out for the big five-oh in September, but this rate was just too good. So I kicked into gear and started booking a last-minute visit for the following weekend. I called to book an AP rate in one of the value resorts, only to find that there were no rooms at any of them, AP rate or not! This almost quashed my trip, as I didn't really want to fight waves of crowds. But I managed to talk myself back into it, and got a great AP rate of $110/night at the Coronado Springs (my favorite moderate, and fast becoming my favorite of all WDW resorts).
I flew out Friday morning, 2/24, for a long weekend. Had a window seat with the middle seat open - heaven! Since this was a budget trip, I went with the absolute cheapest rental car - Payless. Not too bad - shuttle to just off property, long, slow moving line, but a decent mini-van (cheaper than the compacts!), and it's over to the greenway and hotel checkin. Got a great room in the Casitas area amidst all the fountains and topiary - just a beautiful section of the hotel! A quick unpack and it's off to Epcot!!!
Weather for most of this trip was just cool enough to warrant a light sweatshirt. I'd brought a couple, and I bought a new one as soon as I hit Epcot. It just cracks me up to see the tourists in their shorts and tank tops, wondering what happened to the hot Florida weather! I did a pretty good storming of Futureworld, including the traditional first ride on Spaceship Earth and a single rider ride on Test Track. Then I did a fun but not totally legal thing (at least in the eyes of WDW security) - I jumped the rope over the Wonders of Life entrance and went up to see what I could see. The front doors were open, so I enjoyed a strange stroll around the totally empty pavilion. All the displays and stages are still there - just no people! I even went into the Cranium Command theater. It looked like it was fully ready for show - even the monitors were turned on! I was tempted to fiddle with controls and see if I could give myself a show, but my better judgement prevailed and I exited before getting busted.
It was getting closer to dinner time at Bistro de Paris, so I started on a stroll around the World Showcase, picking up a glass of wine in Norway. Another glass in France and I was ready for dinner. I'd had a bad meal last time at Chefs de France, & I noticed that the offending entre (steak in a puff pastry) was no longer on the menu - good! The Bistro was excellent, with great service and wonderful food. I had three sitdown meals this trip, and all of them featured some variation on filet mignon - guess I was in a meat-eating mood! Two glasses of wine with dinner led to another one on the street before entering the Rose & Crown for an evening of serious drinking (here comes the crash & burn!!!).
As always I enjoyed my time in the Pub, drinking my famous weird martinis (vodka martini with frangelico instead of vermouth - smooooth!). But I guess the wine and the martinis added up to quite a bit more than I usually consume. I remember paying the bill. I remember walking to my IllumiNations viewing spot in front of Canada. I remember the start of the show. And that's the end of my memories of the evening.
This really scared me.
Being an old road dog I can slam down the booze, but I don't do it often, and rarely do I drink enough to even give me a hangover. And I don't think I've ever had so much that I had a memory blackout. I must have been conscious, as I consumed my cigar in my traditional counter-clockwise walk around the Lagoon after the show (I had to check the next morning to see if it was still in my pants pocket, and it was indeed gone). And I drove myself back from Epcot to my hotel (yikes!). But the next morning I awoke to blinding pain and nausea, and no memory of the end of the previous evening.
Needless to say, most of Saturday was a bust, as I was fighting nausea, fatigue and headache. After a hesitant breakfast at the Pepper Market I opened up the Magic Kingdom. I did the traditional storming of Fantasyland and the dark rides, then wandered around Tomorrowland for a bit before having lunch with Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's. By now I was so wiped out that it was back to the hotel for a restless nap.
Felt a bit better upon awakening, and I had some time to kill before dinner at Jiko, so I bussed over to the MK, walked to the Contemporary, and rented a Sea Rayder for a fun buzz around the waterways (kinda windy and rougher than I'd like, but still fun). Then it was monorail around to the MK, once around on the MK train, and bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This was my first visit to Jiko, and it was excellent. Some kind of spring roll with a spicy sauce, some kind of soup (sorry, memory still a bit fuzzy) and another variation of the filet mignon. Great meal, great service, and one (1) glass of wine! The plan was to go to the MK for Spectro and Wishes. But I was still pretty wiped out, so I called it an early day and headed back to the hotel.
Now came the second weird event of the trip. Perhaps due to the alcohol abuse of the night before, or perhaps due to some other unforseen condition, Saturday night I just flat couldn't sleep. I'd nod off for maybe 10 minutes and then SLAM awake, jump out of bed, and wander around the room mentally going "this is weird what's wrong I can't stand this I'm really jumpy what's the matter this is strange". It would take 20 minutes or so to calm down, then I'd lay down and try again. 10 minutes later it would be back awake and weirding out. About midnight I got up, got dressed, and went down to the hotel lagoon to just sit and chill. It was really nice out, but I would rather have been sleeping. I probably got 2 hours total sleep that night before giving up and going down to the breakfast buffet at Mara. What a lame buffet! It's not really bad food, but it's just so ordinary - a vat of scrambled eggs, a vat of sausage, a vat of bacon, a vat of waffles. Just ordinary breakfast buffet stuff. OK, but pretty boring.
I hadn't really done the MK justice the day before, so I went back there and took my time seeing the rest of the park - BTMRR, HM, Pirates, etc. I did another sneaky - checked the door to Timekeeper and found it open! I went in and spent some time looking fondly at the lobby display of the history of 9-Eye (all the water things were still bubbling). The theater itself was still intact, as was the Timekeeper himself. He was sorta bent at the waist and leaning over, and really looked sad. I'm going to greatly miss this attraction - always one of my favorites. Had a quick lunch at Pecos Bill, then back to the hotel for a much needed nap. I was sorta afraid of this nap, as I didn't want to just do what I'd done all night. But I actually got a nice hour or so, and felt much better.
This was my last evening, so it was back to Epcot (love that park at night!). I FP'd Soarin', then went on Imagination (I don't know why I keep doing this - it's such a sucky attraction!). Then over to WS and Impressions de France (always a great show), and up to America for the Voices of Liberty. I've mentioned this before, but if you're a music lover you've just gotta see the large blond lady soprano - she's a spectacular voice in a group of pretty nice voices. When she goes up for the high note at the end of a song, then goes up a fifth higher and is clear, pure, not at all screeching - tears, I'm telling ya, real tears at the end of the show! I wanted to go talk to her, but I was seriously verklempt and didn't want to sob all over her. So I just shut up, wiped my eyes, and lined up for the main show.
My Soarin' window was open, so I went back up for a great ride. I am in favor of FP, but I just can't imagine waiting in the standby line for this attraction. The wait was usually 70 - 90 minutes, and the queue is so wide that you're just crammed in like cattle. Not for me! I rode in with a group of people who hadn't been on yet, and it was fun to watch them oohing and squealing throughout the ride!
Dinner that night was at Fulton's, so I drove over to Downtown Disney and perused the shops for a bit before dinnertime. It was kind of a chilly day, and the Fulton's boat had the partitions drawn over most of the outside tables. But they still have a few tables by the windows in the bar area, so that's what I went for. Again, an excellent dinner - a half dozen oysters on the half shell with the horseradish, cocktail sauce, tobasco and crackers - yummy! Then my third filet mignon, this time stuffed with a crab sauce - the best yet! After dinner I went back to Epcot for the R&C and IllumiNations one more time. This time I monitored my imbibing much more closely, and enjoyed a nice buzz without getting stupid.
My flight out on Monday was not till 8:30pm - much later than I usually like to leave. So I checked out and headed to DAK, doing the normal set of stuff (the Safari and Pangani trail, Dinosaur, Bug's Life). I really wanted to do Everest, and it looked fun, but I wanted to wait till there was a bit of a line, so I could go through the queue slowly. Wouldn't you know it - by the time I got back to it the ride was down and didn't come back all morning! Ah well, something to do on my birthday. . .
Lunch was back in Epcot on the patio of the Rose & Crown (love that mushroom medley!). Bad service here, though - my waitress got involved in a conversation with some folks at a nearby table, and after 15 minutes of waiting for her to come and collect my payment I gave up and went inside to pay. Of course, they just summoned her and she gave some bubble-headed little "oops got carried away" comment. Very uncool, & small tip for her! A bit more puttering around and it was time to head to the airport. Got an entire row to myself this time! Hint if you fly Airtran - select seats in the rear right quarter. Their computer fills these seats last for some reason.
Summary - a short strange trip. I have no one to blame but myself for my problems, and maybe it was a bit of a wakeup call to slow down a bit on the martinis. While I noticed a few things that could use upgrading (like Spaceship Earth), nothing reached out and grabbed me. I saw no massive neglect of the streets in the MK, or overflowing trashcans. Bathrooms smelled like bathrooms, though, which is no big surprise. Overall I'm glad I took advantage of the rates that made this trip possible. But next time I'll try sipping instead of chugging.