Just back from a quick, long weekend at The Timeshare Kingdom of the World AKA Disney's best-kept secret (other than the fact that on any given day the Mickey hugging your little Republican child just might be gay!)
Yet, before I start ranting about WDW, I must put something out here for all Micechatters to see. And that is that there are some phenomenal people on this site. People that I'm proud to call friends in the real world. Folks like our own Ann 'Iggy' Labuda. I spent some time with my fave Texan during her recent too-short sojourn to WDW.
THAT was the highlight of my trip. Spending time with a real friend, eating a great meal, talking, catching up ... that to me is the essence of why I go to WDW.
I then spent much of Saturday with one of my dearest friends, someone who I often rag on but would be lost without her kindness, understanding and friendship. I didn't go on one single attraction with either ... yet it was a love for what's best about Disney that brought us together.
When I think of what it is that Disney does right, does best, does second to none (despite many of the morons who drive the Escalades) it's bringing family and friends together. No, not for cheap magical gathering marketing campaigns to mask a lack of fresh offerings, but on the small scale. Two friends having an amazing French dinner (I have no clue why it's been two decades since I last dined at the Bistro de Paris, but it won't take me two trips to go back!) ... or two friends so caught up in just being together at Disney that they forget where they are going and just do a loop on the old monorail ... or maybe a mother and son riding the 'new' Mexican boat ride together for the first time. Or maybe even making new friends on Main Street as you put them in perfect position for their first ever viewing of Wishes.
People often ask why I go to WDW when I find so many faults with the way it's run these days ... well, that's why.
Everyone goes for different reasons, but I think at the core it's simply to share some fun times with the people who they cherish. ... For some that may mean spending 12 hours park-hopping, for others taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Epcot's gardens followed by a lunch in World Showcase, or for others taking as many pictures of the grandkids with the characters as they want. But the basic pull is largely the same.
OK, anyone want to bash Al 'Whitebread' Weiss or Inoverherheadmeg Crofton now?
Actually, this post will be short of much of that because the trip was very quick. I never even set foot inside my beloved DAK. Just no time. My MGM time consisted of a meal at the Brown Derby (still great) and a showing of Fantasmic (still not).
This trip was centered around Epcot and the Flower and Garden Fest and other than some time on Friday at the MK, almost the entire trip was spent there.
OK ... in no particular order, some observations ... Epcot looked wonderful. The fest always brings out the inate beauty of this spectacular park. Displays seemed a bit fresher than in years past, with the exception of the topiares, which get recycled more than a bad Disney exec or a bad baseball manager. The soundtrack of Princess and Pirate themed music at Epcot was jarring, though, to me. ... parks were packed with MANY Massachusetts accents heard all around (can't miss 'em ... they're wicked easy to spot).
I've bashed food and beverage of late, but every full-serve meal I had was good to amazing. Coral Reef has a new chef, new menu and improved cuisine. There was no comparison between this meal and my last visit last fall. As I mentioned, Ann and I had a great, amazing dinner at Bistro ... that's where you should go if you desire real French cuisine, wonderful service, quiet (mostly child-free) atmosphere and not $23 hamburgers.
SSE postshow walls keep getting pushed back further. Interesting how they recently uncovered the 1982-era benches that had been walled up as well as the giant screens from when the post-show was Earth Station (EPCOT Center's City Hall from 1982-93).
Gran Fiesta Tour isn't really grand at all ... maybe that's why it's missing the 'd' ;-) ... It's not bad. The kiddies will like it. And anything that adds the Duck can't be awful. But it's a very cheap overlay. One with surprisingly good animation, yet huge dustballs on the film behind it (Soarin anyone?). Surprisingly, I didn't see any merchandise for sale. Perhaps, I missed it or they just don't have any yet.
Couldn't sit through Tony Orlando's concert ... bad memories ...a few years back he almost ran me down in a Ralph's in 90210 around midnight. But I heard from an excellent source that he put on quite the shows. Did lots of Beatles stuff too. The Buckinghams were great too.
I wonder if Teppanyaki will ever close for its constantly pushed back rehab that was supposed to start today (even though I saw folks walking out of there with pagers in hand).
Did some real shopping and bought all non-Disney items at Epcot. Amazing some of the quality things you can pick up around the World Showcase.
The more I go on The Seas with Nemo, the more I really like it. I would now classify it as a high quality C-Ticket.
The more I visit the upstairs/main tank of the Seas, the more depressed I get. Can't Disney clean/rehab/refresh/fix a whole pavillion anymore all at once?
Brad Rex needs to wake up and get that park's hours extended. 9 p.m. park is crowded with guests eating, drinking and shopping and then it's 'you leave now!'
How about the MK? Ah ... well, at least the walkways were much cleaner than in past visits as were the restrooms. But despite a lack of garbage, the food and drink stains really are ... well, icky. Remember when Disney used to pressure-clean the park's walkways nightly? What's that? You've only been visiting since 2002? Nevermind.
I could complain about the sound and effects on Mansion, or the dirty queues for Buzz and Peter Pan and Pooh ... but you've heard it all before and nothing has changed.
I did go to see Stitch because I was with someone who had never seen it before. I didn't say anything in advance. Afterward their response was 'that was awful ... a total waste.' Yeah, I agree.
Worst show of the trip was at 11:35 Friday night right after SpectroMagic wrapped up. I joined about two dozen other folks in Pecos Bill's for vittles.
The leaflets handed out for EMH stated that Pecos Bill's would be serving until 12:40 a.m. (park was open until 2 for resort guests) ... well, we entered to find one CM cleaning up the fixing bar, one cleaning a trash can. no one at any registers and 3-4 behind the serving area. No one said a word to any of us. Finally a man went over and asked and was told 'we're closed' by a kid who looked to be no older than 16. The man became quite irate and pointed out the hours. The CM just said sorry. He had no clue what was open. Had no clue where a manager/lead might be. Nothing. Turns out the food options were chicken counter only at Cosmic Ray's until 1 a.m. or Casey's until 1:30. I opted to just leave the park. ... BTW, I felt bad for those kids at Pecos Bill's they were put in a no-win situation by folks way above them.
Hey, Phil Holmes, if you're going to keep a park open to visitors you need to staff some food locations. It was in Theme Park Management 101, guess you were home sick that day. Maybe you could go take some remedial courses at UCF?
See, and you all thought I had gone soft ... hahhahhahhhahha.
I suppose I could also complain about how filthy the monorails are on the inside, but again, you already know that so why bother.
The last remnants of the Contemporary Garden North Wing are history. Some trees have also been removed along with the tennis center. Piping for the new DVC Tower is already onsite. I know they haven't announced this yet, but unless they plan on just putting in all the underground infrastructure and then paving it over for parking for 18 months or two years, which I seriously doubt, this thing will start vertical construction in mere weeks.
Disney is preening over the fact Contemporary and Poly have both been awarded four diamond ratings by AAA following their massive rehabs. While I agree they are now deserving, how sad is it that resorts that commanded such premiums could only muster 3 diamonds before?
Poly has gotten some more finishing touches recently including all new furniture and carpeting in lobby. Captain Cook's has reopened and looks great, although menu selection is very limited (although sushi is in the grab and go area). The arcade has moved in next door as well.
At the Contemporary work continues on moving the arcade up to the shopping promenade area. As soon as work is completed look for the Fiesta Fun Center to head into the sunset to make way for a new dining concept. Concourse Steakhouse will close at some point in late 07 or early 08 because apparently Chef Mickey's needs even more space for screaming brats.
Got a pleasant surprise last night when traveling from Epcot to Disney-MGM. Disney is outsourcing to local bus companies because (who could have ever seen this coming?) they don't have enough buses and qualified drivers. So instead of standing on one of those horrible Disney buses, I got to sit in a comfortable, cushy seat on a luxury, well AC'd motor coach with a great driver too. This is one outsourcing project I can get behind!
Oh, and Bob Iger was at WDW recently where he met with DCL officials regarding expansion plans. I'm trying to find out what if anything was decided.
Comments and questions are welcomed ... complaints can be stuck ...