November 2, 2005

Today is our second full day in Disney World. We slept in until 9:30 this morning which was great. Boy was I exhausted from the past two days. I really needed the chance to do some catching up. I felt pretty refreshed by the time that I got up this morning.

We decided that going into the parks early today was totally not worth it so we instead went out and got some breakfast/lunch before attempting to do anything else. We walked from the hotel to Waffle House but when we got there discovered that they do not accept credit cards. More importantly we discovered that they do not run their air conditioning and it was way too warm inside for us to enjoy eating. So we forewent the food there which we were sad to do because we love eating there so much and instead went back to the Perkins that we had just left. Now I know that I said that I would never eat at Perkins again but it was so inconvenient to try to go to anyplace else that it seemed to be worth it. All we were doing was getting some breakfast so it could only be so bad. The only thing that was really bad about the lunch was the price. It cost just as much to eat at Perkins as it would to have eaten inside of one of the Disney Parks at a much nicer restaurant. So we weren’t very impressed. The price at this Perkins was no different than the price at Perkins restaurants in other places but they are all really expensive for what they are.

On the way back from breakfast we did a little shopping. Dominica had neglected to bring enough socks for the trip and needed to buy some. While we were shopping I also convinced her to pick up some arch supports for her shoes. After all of these years of having terrible foot cramps when she walked any distance it turns out that she has never attempted using any type of arch support. So I made her try those right away.

We got back to the hotel and got online and did some posting. SGL got its daily, Flickr got some pics, OurMedia got a video, etc. Min and I even recorded our first Podcast together. However, our Internet access turned out to be pretty flaky and we were not able to stay online long enough to be able to upload the podcast. Oh well, can’t win them all. I spent a lot of time dealing with the bad Internet access. Eventually William at the front desk said that the room’s access wasn’t any good and so they decided to move me to a different room. But Min and I were running late for getting to the shuttle to take us to EPCOT so we had to deal with the room change later in the day. This was not a good start to the day. The last thing that I need to deal with is added stress of something being wrong and not being able to stay in contact with people when I need to do so.

The shuttle turned out to be another problem. They forgot to pick us up entirely. We were supposed to be picked up at 1:30 in the afternoon. Around 1:45 Dominica called the shuttle guys and asked if we had missed them somehow. I guess that they forgot about us or something. So they finally got to the hotel to get us around 1:52 and took us to the park. So we got a later start to the day than we had planned on. Luckily we didn’t have anything scheduled or that could have been a problem.

The first thing that we did was go to The Land and sign up for their Behind the Seeds tour. The Behind the Seeds is a one hour walking tour that is hosted by the agricultural research facility located there at The Land. It is my all time favourite thing to do in Disney World. Eric, Mark and I did it in the 90’s and all of us absolutely loved it. Today was no exception to that; Dominica and I had a great time. We had ten people on our tour including two separate couple from Wisconsin, a family of four from Connecticut and us. The tour was given by the managing director of the facility which cannot be a normal thing. The last time that I went on the tour it was given by an intern from SUNY Cortland. Our tour guide today was definitely excited about giving the tour and it really showed that he loved his work. He had a lot of energy and we had a really good time. I took a lot of pictures on the tour but didn’t post those to Flickr. I didn’t think that too many people were going to be all that interested in looking at a bunch of greenhouse pictures. If you want to see them drop me an email. The tour lasted a bit more than an hour like they had said. It was probably seventy-five minutes or more. A really good value for the $12 each that we had to spend to get to take the tour. I did some figuring and figured out that they must have been paying our tour guide – considering that he was a managing director with a Ph.D. – more during the tour alone than they had collected from the ten of us. Dominica really loved the tour too and totally wants to have a greenhouse now. I told her that that would happen.

From The Land we went on to try out GM’s Test Track which is new enough that neither of us has ever ridden it. The line wasn’t too long so we figured that it was a good time to give it a try. The line area is really poorly done and quite boring but luckily we had to spend almost no time at all in that area. We just walked through it as quickly as possible. Then they have a stages waiting area where they messed up the doors and closed them on me when there wasn’t room in front of me yet to allow me to move out of the way of the doors. Talk about being pushy. They need to check that I think. Then when they released our stages waiting room they made the mistake of opening the room beside us too early and they opened onto the middle of the waiting line and no one could figure out what was going on because they couldn’t leave through the doors that had opened without budging into line so they stood there confused as to where they were supposed to go. I was confused. I had no idea what they were trying to do. The ride itself was horrible. Both of us hated it. The first long bit of it is just this super cheesy “test track” thing where they pretend to be driving you through the process of testing a car. But it is nothing like riding in a car and just feels like a cheap Disney ride but without any good theme or plot. Other Disney rides that are in a setting like that are surrounded by gorgeous artwork, great themeing, audio-animitronics that make you want to ride and ride just to prove to yourself that they aren’t real. But not this ride. There is nothing to see on the whole ride. Then they take you through a really hot room just to make you uncomfortable. Then they whip you around the “test track” at a whopping (can you smell the sarcasm?) 65 miles per hour. Yes that is fast and there is a lot of pressure on the tight turns but it is no thrill ride. It might make you whoozy but it sure won’t get you excited. The bottom line was that this ride was boring, uncomfortable and dumb.

To torture ourselves a little more we continued onto the Kodak pavilion where we rode Journey Into Imagination. This ride was pathetic when I was a kid and it is pathetic now. They did an update sometime in the 90’s and it is a little better than it was but it is still bad. Very bad. There is no point to the ride at all. I have no idea why they felt that they should have it there. After that boring ride we went on to really torture ourselves at Honey I Shrunk the Audience which is a 3D movie that should have been called Honey I Shrunk the Fun. If there is fun associated with this movie I sure wasn’t small enough to find it. This was my second time doing the movie and knew that it wasn’t good but I think that they actually lowered the level of enjoyment that you can extract from it since the last time that I saw it. They try to hide the wait for the ride by making you first line up right inside of the main doors and setting the “ride line length counter” according to the time that it takes to move from this area into the real wait area which they count as part of the show. But it isn’t. First you move into this large room with a cement floor at a heavy slant and they yell at you not to sit down. Of course, everyone wants to sit down because they are bored and uncomfortable. The floor is slanted so sitting makes perfect sense and standing makes none. Especially since the room is dark, everyone is packed in like sardines and everyone is feeling uncomfortable because it feels like something has gone wrong. Like the guy who runs the movie got the flu and called in and no one else knows what to do. The room is basically dark for a really long time and then they decide to play a title sequence on some televisions over and over again hoping that no one notices that they didn’t put as much effort into making this show as I did into my last vlog update from my handheld digital camera. And the used plasma televisions instead of LCDs so this stupid title sequence burned them out. Then, after the whole place is talking about the fact that they are just running a little meaningless title sequence that says something like “And now, inventor of the the year goes to Wayne Szilinski” over and over again and is wondering if they have forgotten about us in here, they play some sappy “kid lost his dog” video that makes everyone really sad. When that is finally over they let us into the actual film for some real punishment. The show is awful. The film quality is pathetic and everything is out of focus. I can’t believe that Kodak or Disney would be willing to put their name on this thing. But to make matters worse there is the story to consider. The show is absolutel painful to sit through. It is not entertaining at all. You hope that the movie will make up for the horrible wait but in fact it just adds insult to injury. Avoid the entire Kodak pavilion at any cost. I have been saying this to everyone going to Walt Disney World for eighteen years now and no one ever listens to me. Once upon a time there was Captain Eo and that was a really great movie. But it is long gone as Kodak wanted to make sure that there was no fun to be squeezed out of their pavilin in Disney World. If you are a Fuji employee (as Dominica now is!!!) you should visit Kodak’s Journey into Imagination and it will make you very, very proud.

We were fed up with Future World and so we high-tailed it out of there on the first thing smokin’ – or floatin’ in our case. We took the Friendship boat over to Germany and walked to Norway to get another sweet almond covered pretzel. Boy those are good. We wanted a snack to prepare us for our big upcoming dinner. The we went to China and watching their CircleVision 360 movie which is absolutely gorgeous. Dominica never got to do China before and I don’t think that I did or if I did I didn’t see this most recent revision of the movie. It was excellent and we both really enjoyed it. It isn’t as long as I would like but you can’t have everything. After the film we stopped and watched the Chinese acrobat girls for a little while. They are really amazing. I can’t believe the stuff that they do.

By the time that we were done in China it was time to get to The Land again for our dinner. It is a long walk from China to The Land so we needed to leave quite a bit early to be able to get there in time to make our reservations. We walked briskly and managed to arrive at the perfect time. We were taken right in and seated which is a real benefit to eating so late in the evening. There were a lot of empty tables and very few children. Now I was awfully wary of doing a character dinner but I have always really like this restaurant, the Garden Grill, and Dominica really wanted to do the character event so I conceded. The way that it is set up is that you get a “family style” course served to you. That means that they bring out a single large helping of everything and you share it at the table. The whole thing is all you can eat so there is no fighting over anything. And everything was amazing. First of all the restaurant itself is Disney’s only revolving restaurant and it takes you on an upper level view of the Living with the Land ride. So it is a very neat restaurant physically. Then the food. Wow was that something. We were so impressed. There wasn’t a single thing that wasn’t just incredible. The highlights were definitely the fresh vegetables grown right there in the same building hydroponically. They were amazing. And the number on thing was the potatoes au gratin. Wow. There were so good that we both decided to get extra potatoes and beans rather than getting dessert. That is extra amazing since dessert was all ready paid for in the package. But the veggies were just so amazing that we couldn’t resist. They did talk us into trying two tiny slices of dessert. But they were only bite sized. We didn’t let them bring the full dessert tray thing that they normally do. The characters were cool too. We had Farmer Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale. We had a really good time and got our pictures taken with the characters as well. I was thinking that this really wouldn’t be much fun for adults but it really was. And the price was great too! It was $25 for each of us for a very amazing all you could eat full service incredible fancy dinner plus a little entertainment from the characters. You can’t get a meal like that in Rochester or even Warsaw for that kind of price. The same level of food in Warsaw would be $80-$90 easily. We totally recommend the character dinner there and we are planning on trying another one now.

We got back to our room after an adventure with the shuttle again. This time they brought a small van to pick up sixteen waiting guests. But to save everyone’s evening we all just crammed into the van. It was cozy but the ride was short. Everyone got to know each other very quickly. We got back to the hotel and had to deal with changing rooms but were happy to do it since we ended up with a nicer room. So we are in there now and our Internet access is at least a tiny bit better for the time being and it looks like we will be able to keep the updates coming. There are new podcasts coming on the main channel as well as the updates throughout the day on SGL 2. I posted numerous times today to SGL 2 but unfortunately the first several appear to have been lost. The last two came through but we lost all of the updates that I did throughout the day. We are very sad about that and it is too bad because I know that a lot of people were listening to those to keep up during the days. We are going to try to post more often tomorrow in the hopes that more will get through. Thanks everyone for listening!

Here is a surpise – Tristan actually emailed me tonight. I have been emailing him for a year or more. He fell off the face of the planet but appears to be back again. We will see if he keeps responding 🙂

It is 3:00 am and I have to post. Good night everyone.

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