Joined: 07 Mar 2003
Location: New Jersey, southern
|Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 7:52 am Post subject: My "I Can't Wipe This Grin Off My Face!" Splurge T
|Note: This was first posted on Tagrel.com on December 9, 2005 at 5:45 pm EST.
This is a report of my first day's Mousefest trip. I returned from Walt Disney World yesterday, December 8, 2005 after a nine-day, eight-night trip. November 30 was the first time that I'd spent any time in WDW (indeed, any time away from home) in the month of November. There are no pictures in this report because, even with a digital camera, I'm a lousy photographer. I had confirmed my flight information with US Airways, my room reservation directly with Wilderness Lodge switchboard at 1 (407) 824-3200, and my airport shuttle ride with Rapid Rover, all the previous night (November 29).
I set my clock alarm for three am as I knew I'd be too excited to sleep anyway. I forgot to unset it; so for the next eight days, the personalities at KYW Newsradio 1060 (Ten Sixty) came on to an empty house at that time. Anyway, I got up; shaved, showered, got dressed, packed my toiletries and last-minute things. I brought down my suitcase and backpack and then had a bowl of cereal with a glass of orange juice at about 4:45 am. I unplugged my computer, TV and stereo and called Rapid Rover to confirm that someone was going to pick me up. There's something about a trip, for which you've planned for months, finally beginning.
Rapid Rover showed up at 5:23 am. While I set my security alarm and locked my house, the driver loaded my suitcase and backpack into the van. I hopped in and leaned a little forward in my seat, in anticipation of my first trip anywhere in very nearly a year (not counting my July 30 day trip to Ocean City, MD). The ride to the airport was uneventful, and I said little except to state my airline. We arrived at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) at around 6:00 am. The driver got out and I followed, paying him with two twenties and change from my $350 stash ($32.00 fare, $4.80 plus a dollar a bag tip, returning $2.00).
I had a little trouble checking in because I used the no-baggage-check kiosk, and finally got my baggage check receipt and boarding pass from the ticket agent. I was now ready to rock, and I went through security and to gate C23 to board US Air Flight 987, departing at 7:40 am. US Air boards by a zone system. My pass read zone 7 so I was among the last to board, finding my aisle seat (for a change) 13D and buckling in. The flight was uneventful; I alternated talking with my rowmates, reading my Passporter, and napping until touchdown at Orlando International Airport (MCO) at 10:15 am.
Getting off the plane, I took the shuttle to the main terminal and walked to the A side in search of Disney's Magical Express, finally asking someone at the main Mears counter and walking past three long counters to my right to find it, getting in line to give my baggage claim check to the lady at the counter. When my turn came and I did so, she directed me to a line for a bus bound for Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian, where I waited, and waited.
Finally, at about 11:00 am a bus appeared and I got on. Because the driver made stops at the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts, we finally got to Wilderness Lodge at about 11:55 am. I was getting nervous: would I be able to check in to the resort, settle in, and get to Le Cellier by 1:50 pm for lunch? To find out, keep reading, if I haven't already bored you with all this detail.
Opening in 1994 at 901 Timberline Drive on the shores of Bay Lake, Wilderness Lodge is simply gorgeous, a Lincoln Logs construction with a huge lobby on its second floor, an eight-story atrium, a 65-foot Christmas tree, and an 80-foot fireplace. My check-in reservationist was a woman named Jackie. My reservation called for a standard room, so I expected two queen beds in a fourth- or fifth-floor room overlooking a parking lot. I nearly did a double-take when Jackie asked, "King bed?" In short, I got room 1132. My travel agent, Judy at Great Escapes Travel in Audubon, NJ, must have mentioned my cerebral palsy. Room 1132 is located near the Silver Springs pool, handicapped accessible with a walk-in shower, a refrigerator, and a king bed with a view of trees, steps to a small patio and a road in front, and of rocks to the far right. It was ready, too; Jackie led me to it and I entered and put away my backpack. I called my brother Steve, who answered with "How's Florida?" and told him, "This call is coming to you live from the Wilderness Lodge at the Walt Disney World Resort!" and told him about my room. I also called Mike Scopa and AliciaG, to report my safe arrival. Both were unavailable so I left messages.
After briefly reading the Silver Creek Star, the little newspaper summarizing the Lodge's amenities, unpacking, and looking at the resort map, I headed to Epcot and my lunch ADR at Le Cellier. It took awhile to get to the bus stop (stop 2) but once I got there I didn't have to wait long (maybe ten minutes) for a bus to Epcot. Climbing aboard, I sat quietly for the 15-minute ride to WDW's second-largest theme park (some 350 acres). Getting there, I noted the stop number for the Wilderness Lodge (WL) bus (number 5) and entered the park, struggling a little with the biometrics (two fingers, not three: the pointer finger and the curse finger). Once in, I headed for World Showcase and the Canada pavilion, and then to Le Cellier.
According to the hostess at the podium, Le Cellier is the most popular sit-down restaurant in Epcot, and second only to, I believe, California Grill in all of Walt Disney World in popularity. It's also booked solid through December 31, so I was truly blessed to snag this ADR. I made it to Le Cellier with seven minutes to spare, checked in, and took a seat while waiting to be called. When I was seated around 2:00 pm I looked at the menu and ordered an appetizer of cheddar cheese soup, an entree of the French dip prime rib sandwich with Canadian bacon (which is actually fried ham) on top, and dessert of Maple Creme Brulee which is a custard topped with pure maple extract and half a strawberry. The meal was delicious but either I forgot to use my dining credits or someone forgot to put it in, so it was charged to my room. Either way, I inhaled the meal because I hadn't eaten in nine hours.
I finished at about a quarter after three and decided to go back to my room and relax. When I got to WL I went to the lobby and upgraded my seven-day MYW ticket with hopping and dining, to a nine-day same for only $6.39. Most sacred excrement, what a deal! I then went to my room, watched TV and relaxed until 5:00, when I left for Raglan Road.
Raglan Road is located at the entrance to Pleasure Island. To get there I took the Downtown Disney bus from the resort and then promptly lost my interior compass and walked to Westside, which is in the opposite direction, away from the bridge to PI. I asked a cast member how to get to RR, and he pointed me in the right direction. I got there at about 5:45, about 45 minutes before meeting GloriaK. To pass the time I talked to some of the CMs, drank some water, and shopped.
Then a lady in a red blouse came up to me and asked, "Are you Jim?" When I said yes, she introduced herself as GloriaK. Here is an example of Internet dynamics at work--the good kind, not the kind on which the media loves to focus. I didn't know what she looked like, and she knew what I look like from pictures on the Tagrel and Clubhouse boards; but we hit it off like we'd been friends for years. We talked about our pets--her dogs and Chloe, the cat that I had to return to my ex-girlfriend Linda and which had recently run away--and other things. We split the Heaven on Earth appetizer--ribs in a Guinness and honey glace--with some fries. Delicious. I had an iced tea and she had a Guinness, which she thought was strong. After splitting the $27.64 check and adding a $6.00 tip, we decided to go to Marketplace and Ghirardelli's, which is a beacon for ice cream junkies like me. She ordered a regular sundae and I got a brownie sundae, both female (no nuts). Yummy. Gloria and I then worked our way slowly down Westside to Pleasure Island, stopping in a couple stores.
When we got to PI, I bought an-all-club pass for $22.32; paying with a twenty, two ones, a quarter, and a dime, getting three pennies back. We then ambled up to Adventurer's Club, meeting up with Timon, ddoll and Geri, Dawick and Laura, Lou Mongello of DisneyTrivia.com, Sheryl, Miss Barracus (BetsyAnn, or BA), Colette, and a couple others. Entering AC, we watched the various shows unfold such as the Balderdash Cup (during which I took a few bad pictures), the swearing-in of new AC members, and the hilarious team of Timon and WillCAD performing a pelvic dance routine which heated up AC's goddess. By 10:45, having been awake nearly 19 hours, I begged off, and took the bus to WL from Pleasure Island Stop 4. There I went to my room, undressed and went to sleep by 11:55 pm.
If you wish to pick someone's brain, you first need a jackhammer.