May 12, 2007: Day Two in Disney World

We wanted to get an early start this morning which was probably pretty foolish after having stayed up doing the podcast last night until around two in the morning. We had ordered breakfast to be delivered at six thirty in the morning. That was a big mistake. My alarm went off at six thirty and at the exact same moment room service was knocking on the door. I was so tired that I could not even figure out what was going on.

The room service breakfast was very good – omelette’s, potatoes, biscuits, juice and coffee. But it was too early in the morning and eating it didn’t make me feel very good and I felt really rushed and couldn’t really enjoy it. Lesson learned.

Because we had been so aggressive at getting up early this morning we ended up being too tired and dragged so much that we didn’t manage to leave the resort until much later than we had intended. Today our plan is to hit the Magic Kingdom since yesterday was EPCOT. Today is really for Dominica as I am only so excited about going to the Magic Kingdom. It is fun but not exactly loaded with stuff that I want to do. But our plan is to take it easy and to be super-selective about what we do.

We got to the Magic Kingdom around ten in the morning and went straight for Adventureland which is the traditional place to start your Magic Kingdom explorations but these days Dominica tells me that the bulk of the people are going in the opposite direction to start in Tomorrowland which I think is really weird. So Adventureland it is for us.

We went straight onto Pirates of the Caribbean which we were sure was going to be totally packed both because of the movies and because it was recently updated but there was no line at all. We just walked straight in. Since there was no line we decided to do it twice in a row. No line the second time either. We were sure that this weekend was going to be completely packed so that we could get in anywhere.

Pirates has been updated recently so that they could add in new audio-animatronics of Johnny Depp and Geoffery Rush’s characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The new characters are amazingly well done but are definitely done in a different style than the original characters and both Dominica and I noticed that they really stood out as being different. So the integration wasn’t all that it could have been. They also added a movie projector showing Davy Jones projected onto some mist at the beginning of the ride but I thought that that was really cheap and didn’t fit with the ride. Dominica liked it though. It wasn’t bad I just didn’t think that it added anything. Towards the end of the ride they have changed the ride to have Tortuga be on fire which happens in the movie but not on the original ride. This is the biggest mistake I think as the fire looks awful and the scene wasn’t designed for it so it is completely out of place and weird. I also don’t like that they added in Captain Jack Sparrow all through the ride because the ride used to be a ride through Tortuga but now it is attempting to tell a story but does it very poorly. The updates are okay but I preferred the original ride as it was better integrated and thought out.

After our double trip to Tortuga we skipped the Jungle Cruise (which is great but doesn’t have a lot of “replay” value even when you have been away for years) and went on to Frontierland. We are avoiding all “thrill” rides so we ended up just walking through Frontierland as there is pretty much nothing there except Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain – both of which are very good but neither was something that we were interested in trying this year. So we kept right on going to Liberty Square.

Dominica was eager to The Haunted Mansion as it is still the original ride and the whole thing is being closed soon for renovations. I really liked this ride when I was young but it has aged much worse than most of the other rides of its era and it definitely needs to be updated. So I am hoping that they do anything as long as they don’t put in projectors and just show movies as you ride through the new version. But my faith in Disney’s ability to make any ride without showing a movie has dropped to near nill.

We timed the Haunted Mansion just perfect so that we could get right on to the Mississippi Riverboat ride which we did not get to do in 2005 and is one of my favourite things in the Magic Kingdom. That is very pleasant to do on a hot day which is was being above ninety degrees today.

Having made it over halfway through the park (Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland and Liberty Square down with only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland left to go) we decided to stop and eat an early lunch before the lunch crowd really got started. It was still quite early for lunch. But I have always wanted to eat at the Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square so we decided to go there. The Liberty Tree Tavern is the sit down full service restaurant that services Liberty Square but we are planning on a big dinner and wanted to do something faster. The Columbia Harbor House is a really nice counter service venue that is attractive and has an interesting menu and is right in the middle of the Magic Kingdom action. So we got their hummus and broccoli slaw sandwiches and went to the upper level which goes over the walkway connecting Liberty Square to Fantasyland which allowed us to relax in a very quiet setting next to the windows with a really cool view down onto Liberty Square. That was a lot of fun and we really recommend it to people looking to get away and relax a little in the Magic Kingdom.

After our early lunch we continued on to Fantasyland and did Mickey’s Philharmagic which is by far the best three dimensional movie in Walt Disney World and the only one in the Magic Kingdom. There was a little bit of a line for this ride simply because it is a movie and not a continuously moving line. I forgot how enjoyable the movie was. It really is good. Also in Fantasyland are the Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan rides which are fun even if targeted towards the younger set but we didn’t want to wade through a sea of children to be able to ride them. So off we went to Tomorrowland.

In Tomorrowland we rode the Wedway People Mover which is just fun and relaxing. I have always enjoyed that even though it is just a slow ride through Tomorrowland. It is very comfortable and good for a hot day to cool you off. After that we went in and rode the highlight of Tomorrowland: The Carousel of Progress. You just can’t do the Magic Kingdom without riding the Carousel. It is just so good. It is so hard to believe that all of the best parts of that ride were built in 1964 and really haven’t changed since then! What an amazing idea that entire ride was. The ride was originally sponsored by General Electric for the 1964 New York’s World Fair where It’s A Small World also made its debut.

After the Carousel the only thing that we really wanted to do was to ride the Magic Kingdom train that circles the park. Just a nice way to relax. So we walked back to the head of Main Street USA and hopped on the train and rode it the entire way around the park. Then it was time to head back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge as I had a bit of work that I needed to catch up on.

It was not even two o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived back at the lodge. Our entire morning of hitting all of the highlights of the Magic Kingdom took just a few hours even on a very hot, bright and crowded morning! We have really gotten good at this. And we took a long, leisurely lunch at the Columbia Harbor House too.

After we got back to the hotel we decided that we were pretty warm so we popped down to The Mara which is the counter service restaurant in the resort and grabbed some ice cream and some drinks. That cooled us down a bit before we settled into the afternoon in our hotel room.

Dominica went out and enjoyed the balcony for a little bit but then took a nap for several hours while I worked on some consulting work that needed to be done today, some miscellaneous paperwork that I needed to do and the homework that I need to do for my class at RIT. It was a busy afternoon for me and took about four hours for me to complete.

While I was working I would occasionally pop outside and check out the savanna which was awesome. I managed to get a lot of video footage of the animals which I hope to be able to share with you very soon.

At ten after six Dominica and I had reservations at Jiko: The Eating Place which is the AAA Four Diamond rated restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is located directly next to Boma but is a rather different dining experience. We had decided that we didn’t want to limit our weekend to only eating at Boma when there is just so much good food to explore while we are here. Jiko was awesome. Everything that we had was really good. Dominica got scallops and I went for the all vegetarian grain dish which was really amazing. We were very glad that we decided to give Jiko a try. We definitely recommend it although if you only get to have one meal at the Animal Kingdom Lodge I would probably lean towards Boma.

It was after eight by the time that we were done with dinner so we decided that there was no need to return to the parks today.  We were both tired and thought that it would be better to spend the evening in the hotel.  Most of the evening was spent either enjoying the balcony or with me editing the podcast so that we could get it published.  At ten thirty we took a break and went down to Zawadi which is the shop in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and did some shopping.  We didn’t get to bed until after midnight.  Tomorrow we are on to the Animal Kingdom.

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